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Charity shop volunteering – a brand new opportunity

24 August 2017

Seven months ago Mencap opened its first charity shop in Bury. Meet some of the volunteers who are helping to make it a success.

Sam Percival

It has been 7 months since Mencap opened its first charity shop in Bury. The brand new retail movement is part of Mencap's ambitious plan to open 120 stores by 2022. 

At the heart of this project are our volunteers who give up their time to support the running of their local shop. Each volunteer contributes something unique to that shop and provide essential support to the team, like Elliot Reed, a volunteer at the Bury Donation Station store, the very first Mencap store.

Meet Elliot...

Elliot volunteering in a Mencap shop

I have been volunteering since January 2017 with Mencap. I am looking for work at the moment and wasn’t doing anything. My mum donates to the Mencap store and she heard about the volunteering opportunities, that is how I heard about the volunteering opportunity. I had not heard of Mencap before starting to volunteer with them.

I love volunteering with Mencap at their store. I help the van driver load the vans and sometimes assist on local deliveries. I also help people to sign up to Gift Aid when they donate to the store. This means we can claim the VAT back if they pay tax. I enjoy volunteering, I volunteer on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesdays are really busy in the shop.

Since volunteering with Mencap I have become much more confident and have more work experience and really like meeting new people.

Elliot volunteering in a Mencap shop

Working alongside the volunteers are a Store Manager and a Store Assistant.

At the moment we have 10 volunteers working with us in store. Working with volunteers has been great and from the start we have asked volunteers to commit at least 4 hours per week. This has really helped the team to gel as a family.

Julie Sloan, Store Manager

Meet John...

John sorting some books in a Mencap charity shop

In Bury we not only recruited volunteers who had never heard of Mencap, but also a volunteer who is a Mencap tenant in Rochdale. On Tuesdays John Dingivan volunteers with two of his support staff too. John has been volunteering for a couple of months, and here is his story.

John was donating some of his old things after a clear out at home to the store in Bury, and asked about volunteering. John's main role is to get the old books off of the shelves and bag them up, to be circulated to other stores. Then to sort through the new books into story books and fact books and to put the stickers on them. John then puts the books back out into the shop.

This role is structured to support John and suits him very well, and John enjoys his cuppa at the end of his shift. Volunteering has given him the opportunity to go out and about on a Tuesday and meet new people.  John surprised us all a few weeks ago by coming to the rescue of one his colleagues who was struggling with some heavy boxes.

Lesley James, Support Worker (pictured above, and with John and Support Worker Michael Talacka below)

John with his team in a Mencap charity shop

John and Elliot both provide great support to Julie and her team. Julie is always on the lookout for more volunteers to join her team, as are the other stores opening soon. 

So Julie’s message to anyone thinking of volunteering is:

Join our team! We really are like a family, even with the regular customers who come into store. It is a great place to meet new people and we will find a role to suit you within the store.

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