We caught up with Sas to ask her about her volunteering role.

Firstly, could you tell me a bit about how you got involved with Mencap?  

"Basically it was through someone I know who got me involved. I can’t remember who. My support worker maybe. I had a job interview. I worked in the café first. I worked in there a couple months. There was an opportunity to work in the shop. You could only work there six months as lots of people want to work there.  

When did you start volunteering in a Mencap charity shop?  

"For three years since before the lockdown"

Why did you want to volunteer?  

"Because I wanted to work for a really good charity to prove to people I can do something that I want to do."

When volunteering with Mencap, what does a typical day involve? 

"It means working on the till and talking to the customers which I love doing, and meeting new people who come through the door. I also love working on the till and it’s helped me to be better with money.  

I have made a great bond with my manager. If it’s busy and there are lots of customers, then I have help from my manager. My colleagues also give me support if I feel anxious. The only thing I don’t like is some of the mean customers. When we don’t have customers we can have a laugh."

You’re also a volunteer with Superstar Arts, could you tell me a bit about this?  

"It’s really good as well. On a Friday afternoon I go down to the charity shop and work with these two amazing people – my other manager is fantastic. I have a really good work colleague and we all have a laugh. 

Basically it’s similar to what I do at Mencap and we sell a lot of the stuff we make. I’m part of a gardening group there, so sometimes I go down and sell some of the plants we grow. I have a fantastic manager and work colleagues who are very supportive.  

And recently last Friday we made a little video of the shop. My manager and I were involved in the video to advertise the shop so people can see what we sell and stuff."

In what way has volunteering benefitted you?  

It’s given me the opportunity to do new things, learn new things and meet new people.

It’s helped me a lot. It’s helped me with the money situation. Ages ago before I worked in charity shop, I struggled with money. Because I’ve had people helping me do it I have gotten a lot better. If I struggle, my manager will come and help me.  

It’s also helped me become more confident. My confidence is a lot better working with my colleagues and also strangers who come in. Even if it’s new customers I’ll get to know people. Working in a shop has helped me talking to new people. Because of my disability I feel I’m kind of different in a good way. 

I like to try and make friendships with people."

What has been the highlight of volunteering with Mencap?  

"I love to train people, I’m training someone on the till. With the skills I’ve learnt from my colleagues, I can train other people. Also being with all of the people – my colleagues, the other volunteers, the customers who come in to support Mencap. And having something to do and being useful."

What would you say to encourage other people to start volunteering?  

"I would tell people to try your best, never give up and to go for it. Don’t hesitate and give it your best to show people what you’re made of whether you have a disability or now – all you can do is do your best and don’t give up."

In what ways have your experiences as a volunteer helped you in your role as a football coach?  

"Being used to dealing with different people."

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