Verity Wood retail volunteer at Zest, Ipswich

More than 1,600 volunteers generously give their time to support Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice.

These volunteers provide support in many ways, including working in either of the two Zest retail shops, in Colchester and Ipswich, or by working alongside Zest staff in supporting young adults at X-Change evenings and weekend drop in sessions.

One Zest volunteer is 18-year-old Verity Wood, who has been a familiar face to many customers visiting the Zest shop in Ipswich since its opening in 2018.

“I have been volunteering for Zest since the Ipswich shop opened when I was 16,” explained Verity.

“My mum works for St Elizabeth Hospice so I was aware of all the great work the organisation does for the community, but I initially began volunteering at the hospice as part of my Year 10 school work experience.

“I enjoyed it so much that I have now volunteered for the hospice across various departments including Zest, the inpatient unit and The Hub. All my roles have been varied, but especially working in the Zest shop, as you are always on your toes and are constantly meeting customers who really love Zest and what it stands for.”

Volunteering sees supporters donate any amount of time they are able to do so. As part of Verity’s role she often volunteered three or four times a week at the Zest shop throughout her GCSE summer holidays while still enjoying her many hobbies such as playing cricket for Worlingworth Cricket Club and socialising with friends.

She added: “Volunteering is so rewarding and any amount of time you give is greatly appreciated by the Zest team.

“The shop is such a warm place to be and it really isn’t like any other charity shop. Customers often comment ‘it doesn’t smell like a charity shop and it doesn’t look like one either’, which is very true as the Zest aesthetic is vibrant and the clothes are all unique.”

A typical day volunteering for Zest would see Verity helping with opening up the store, organising donations, working on tills and working alongside colleagues to develop ideas on how to promote and present the store to the public.

Through volunteering Verity not only supports the charity but has also learnt and developed new skills which have served to help in other areas of her life.

“Volunteering for Zest has given me real-world job experience and enabled me to improve my communication skills through talking to people from all walks of life, which will help me with my future career,” she said.

“Similar to many people I had misconceptions about what I thought the hospice and Zest were. However, through volunteering I have learnt these are places full of people making the most of life and Zest, in particular, allows young adults to enjoy themselves and reach their full potential when otherwise this may not be straightforward.

“I would encourage anyone of any age to consider volunteering for Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice, as through volunteering you have the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people while at the same time making a difference to patients, young adults and staff who use and work for this vital service.”

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

To find out further about Zest visit

Sign up to receive monthly updates

Share your story