Volunteers Week: Volunteering in our Charity Shops by Amina Burslem

Up next on our Volunteers Week blog series Amina Burslem, telling us about her experience volunteering in our Charity Shops!

I am a wannabe retiree, a mum of three and a grandma of three. For most of my career, I have been a secondary school teacher, both locally and internationally.  It was over two years ago now, when I  returned from from working in Beijing. I was living in Belper on my own as my husband still had to complete his contract there. I was ready to try something new. Walking by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust shop, I saw, on the board outside, “volunteers wanted,” so I called in and had a chat with the manageress. She talked me through everything and gave me some simple forms to complete. 

I had never worked in a shop before and the concept of a till and a labelling gun was a mystery to me. I didn’t have to worry, I had all the patient instruction and support I needed and I feel pretty confident with it all now. If I do forget how to do something, or get stuck with the vagaries of the till, I just follow the handy guide or shout out for help! 

Why Derbyshire Wildlife Trust? Well, we were members when the kids were growing up so were able to visit many of the sites and see first hand what good work the Trust does. I am a biology teacher and so much of my career has been spent explaining to students the marvellous complexity of living systems and how we must value life. I think the protection of wildlife must be the number one priority for humanity now.

Volunteering as a shop assistant in the Belper Derbyshire Wildlife Trust helps to raise funds for the much needed work of the Trust and reuses and recycles goods. That’s good for the environment and the pocket! 

Working in the shop is great fun. I love working with the staff and other volunteers, having a natter, and helping to get the shop looking good. I love serving customers and getting to know the regular visitors. The impromptu fashion shows, the search for something quirky and special to wear or to give, the kids’ fascination with the chirruping soft toy birds; the chit-chat and the questions all bring the cheerful atmosphere to the shop, keep thing lively and make the day pass so quickly. It’s also heart-warming to see the kindness and generosity of people in their giving of donations. Sorting through these and pricing up items for sale is another interesting task, that is done as a team. There is never a dull moment and it is good for the brain to keep learning new skills. This is why I would say to anyone that it’s a great place to volunteer. 

Amina Burslem Volunteer