Belper charity shop offering volunteer opportunities
A new volunteer has joined the ranks of a Belper charity shop this week, with a mission to expand its staffing team and continue the shop's remarkable story of success.
Nathalie Hollingworth, 49, has been assigned to the Oxfam shop on King Street as a recruitment officer after answering an advert in the national press.
She said: “It’s a new role, for me and the shop, and I’m still finding my feet, but the idea is to promote the community of volunteers we have here, and the benefits available to anyone who wants to get involved.
“We have a roster of 36 volunteers giving their time already, but we need at least seven more regulars to be a backbone and ensure we are fully staffed at all times.”
In 2016, Derbyshire Oxfam shops generated more than £500,000 to alleviate poverty, promote inclusivity and create a sustainable future for people all over the world.
Nathalie is hoping the inclusive values of Oxfam and its opportunities will have wide appeal to older people looking for a new social scene, or others looking for a way into paid work—whether career starters, returners or those who need extra support at work.
She said: “It’s a difficult time to be looking for work, I’m coming back to the market after being a full-time mum for nearly 20 years.
“I used to work in PR, but it’s quite a young industry. Now I’m trying to sharpen up my skills again, get current references and new experience - so I know what it’s like for other people, and how we can help them get on in life.”
Unlike many high street charity shops, Oxfam offers a National Vocational Qualification to its volunteers, giving them recognised retail skills.
The charity also reimburses volunteers for any food and travel expenses incurred during a shift.
The shop team currently comprises a bubbling mix of personalities and ages from 14 to 94, and about a quarter have been involved with the shop for more than 15 years.
One woman has been there for 35 years, while a teacher who started working there as an A-Level student now returns to help out during his holidays.
Volunteer Sue Marson, 62, said: “It’s very, very friendly here and once you start you want to stay because you make life-long friends.”
Nathalie, who will be travelling to the shop once a week from her home in Derby while working to recruit volunteers, said: “It’s a really lovely place to come, and a very welcoming sense of community.”
“We’ll take on people from all backgrounds, and do everything we can to help you settle in. It’s a good atmosphere in which to discover a sense of purpose and focus.”
Volunteers can find plenty to interest them in the course of a full or half-day shift - from creating seasonal window displays to sorting and cleaning donations, identifying rare items, stacking the Fairtrade shelves and serving customers on the till.
Shop staff also represent Oxfam at local festivals and community events - and work with grassroots and school groups hiring out stock from the treasure trove fancy dress department.
Nathalie said: “I’ve been really impressed with how efficient, organised and tidy it is, even when it’s hectic.
“We have an incredibly varied stock which throws up surprises every day. The people of Belper are very generous with their donations, hopefully they can give some of their time too.”
Volunteer application forms are available to download at www.oxfam.org.uk/shopvolunteer.