So you are thinking of volunteering to work in a Help Charity Shop?
Then read on:
What does the work consist of?
Many things need doing in the shops, including sorting donations of clothes, bric-a-brac etc., working at the till, selling, etc; there are daily cleaning duties to be done as well, and all these tasks are undertaken by the whole day’s team. There is often more ironing to be done than can be fitted into a regular day and all volunteers are expected to keep the shop looking neat and clean: shelves need dusting; hanging garments need straightening and colour sorting; linens need refolding; returned books need replacing on the shelves alphabetically. It is important that the shop looks inviting, clean and tidy.
We also have regular shop meetings and it is important to attend these whenever possible – volunteers bring good ideas for the shops’ smooth running and improvement, and committee members bring updated information about what Help is doing in our valley.
The shop could not function without these, so receiving them is an important part of our work. We thank everyone for their donations of goods and for thinking of us when disposing of their unwanted items.
An offer to help carry more items from the car is always appreciated. It is better to leave sorting the items until the donor has actually left the shop. If the items are unsuitable or in poor condition we would not want them to hear any adverse comments or see disposal. After handing over donations the person may well then decide to look around and we would not want them to be within hearing distance in case an inappropriate comment escaped. However, most donations we receive are in very good condition and raise much-needed funds.
It is important that we encourage donations. The shop manager will explain about any items we do not accept, and how to gently refuse them – offering alternative ideas for disposal.
You will need to be very aware that the person delivering them may be recently bereaved or distressed and a sympathetic word goes a long way.
Starting at the Shop
The shop manager will make sure that accepted new volunteers spend a morning working under their direction before being included on the rota or reserve list. They will tour the shop with you, explaining the different areas where items are displayed, the system of sorting, storage of next season’s stock etc. Pricing is always a difficult one to start with and it is best to consult with an experienced member of the team.
At least four volunteers are needed each morning whenever possible, enabling sufficient cover for all the necessary things that need doing. It also allows a margin for an unexpected absence.
Rotas are planned well in advance. You could be part of a team working on a regular day or a reserve, contacted to come in on an emergency, or to cover a planned absence, in which case you will be given as much notice as possible.
Once you have committed to work a shift then you are on the rota as such and those working with you will expect you to be there, so in case of illness, etc., you will need to contact another reserve to take your place. In the event of not being able to find anyone you should telephone the Manager.
All volunteers are asked to wear badges when on duty. The Help image is important and we want to portray a professional look. If asked to help at events, whether manning a stall, selling tickets, programmes or in some other general way, you would be expected to wear your badge.
We have changing rooms, and these are the only places we allow garments to be tried on. We ask that you use your discretion about customer use of the toilet. Someone who is allowed to use it is more likely to stay in the shop to browse and buy than someone refused the use of it.
We do not allow credits, exchanges or discounts. Often people, particularly Spanish, want to take something for their family to try on. Alcalalí allows them to do this by recording in a book (regular customers only).
There will be some differences in the two shops because of their layout and other circumstances, however most of the running is the same and any differences will be explained by the managers.
Tea, coffee, milk, sugar and water are supplied for a tea break for volunteers. We also have social events when staff from both shops can join together.
Helping People in Difficulties
It is important that volunteers realise that the shop may be the first point of call for someone in difficulties. We offer as much privacy as possible, a seat, a sympathetic ear, and listen to the problem. It may be that we have no idea how to help at first but it may be a simple request to borrow a piece of equipment, the need for a translator, or something much more, in which case we have a file of information and a helpline. This is a very important part of our work in the shops as Help is not just about raising money but actually helping people in our valley
If you now feel that you would like to apply for Membership of Jalon Valley Help as a shop volunteer then we would very much like to receive your application.