Tracy's Hospice Story – Volunteer to Full-time Employee

“Volunteering and working for Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice is something I really enjoy, as it is such a wonderful environment to be in with such a supportive team around me,” explained Tracy Myles, who began volunteering in the hospice’s Zest retail shop in August 2023 and has since progressed to join the hospice as a full-time employee, working as an assistant manager at St Elizabeth Hospice’s shop in St Matthew’s Street, alongside manager Wendy Fowler.

Every year more than 4,000 people living with a progressive or life-limiting illness, and their families, are supported throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney by the free specialist palliative care provision of St Elizabeth Hospice.

This care is provided by hospice staff who operate throughout the region but who are supported by a fantastic team of volunteers, whose generosity enables St Elizabeth Hospice to continue evolving its services to care for more people in the local community

“Zest was always my favourite charity shop in Ipswich,” said Tracy. “I was going through a period of time when I was feeling very anxious and just wanted to get out the house, so I went into Zest and asked what volunteering opportunities they had.

“They explained they had a retail volunteering position available and that they would be delighted to have me on board. I have previous experience working in retail, so I was excited to support the charity in their shop and help give back to the community using my skills.

“The biggest thing I gained from volunteering was it helped me regain my confidence. I had a stroke 16 years ago and in the last seven years I have fought breast cancer twice (happy to say I am five years in remission), and I really found volunteering enabled me to meet new people on a daily basis and feel more confident in myself, after a tough few years personally.

“A typical day volunteering in the Zest shop, saw me helping to steam clothes, working the till, pricing and tagging items and deciding how best to display the range of wonderful items we had in the shop at that time.

“Outside of work and volunteering, I love running, going to the cinema and socialising, and I found the volunteering shifts fitted well with my personal life – which was great.

“After a few months volunteering at Zest, I was speaking with Jade, one of the retail area managers about my past retail experience and she advised that they were always looking for experienced people with retail background to join the team.

“I noticed two assistant manager positions at the charity’s St Matthew’s Street and Nacton Road shops had become available and I applied. I am so pleased I was successful, as here we are now!

“I started working at St Matthew’s Street shop in November 2023 and it is something I really do not regret, in going back to retail and Wendy, the shop manager, has really taken me under her wing.

“Volunteering and being a paid member of staff in a charity shop environment is so different to your usual retail. When I first began volunteering for St Elizabeth Hospice, I never thought I would eventually become a full-time employee, but it has been a brilliant and incredible journey.

“Every day is different, but you still get to see familiar faces in the shop which is lovely and gives a real sense of community.

“I would encourage anybody who is considering volunteering, to give the St Elizabeth Hospice volunteer team a call. You have so much to gain from volunteering, such as learning new skills or making new friends, or who knows, you could end up with a full-time job one day.”

To learn more about volunteering opportunities at St Elizabeth Hospice email or visit

To find out more about St Elizabeth Hospice call 01473 727776 or visit

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