Meet the women building a fairer, healthier world
To mark World Health Day, we’re celebrating the inspirational women working on the frontlines of healthcare in the world’s poorest communities.
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Volunteers are at the heart of Concern’s charity shops in the UK. Without the dedication and support of hundreds of people like them, we simply couldn’t keep our shop doors open and continue to support Concern’s work with vulnerable communities around the world.
But what kind of person does it take to be a shop volunteer? Of course, anyone can get involved – you don’t need any previous experience (although you must be over 18). But the reality is it takes a very special person – and each individual volunteer brings a unique and valued quality to the role.
Meet five amazing people who tirelessly help to keep Concern’s shops open – even in difficult times.
Now enjoying semi-retirement, Rodney Maxwell volunteers three days a week in one of our shops.
Rodney’s something of a charity shop pro – and has been lending his time and experience to other charities for more than 40 years. Now a Concern shop volunteer, he’s enthusiastically taken on the role of teaching newbies how to use the till.
The shop is a great way to support the work of Concern – and is good for the local community too,” he said. “I look forward to meeting new people every day. We’re a great team of volunteers. And I enjoy the tea break!”
Rose Skillen is a new volunteer and devotes one afternoon a week helping out in Concern’s newest shop.
“The shop has been really busy since we opened, even in these hard times,” she said. “People are coming in with lots of donations.”
That’s music to Rose’s ears because she believes firmly in the sustainability value of charity shops – reusing and upcycling pre-owned items.
I love the whole idea of recycling things that people no longer need. It’s better for everyone – it means less waste and a new lease of life for something that’ll otherwise be discarded.
Sharon McLoughlin has been managing Concern’s Antrim Road shop in Belfast since it opened only a few months ago. But she’s brimming with ideas and experience – having worked in charity retail for 14 years.
“No two days are the same,” she said. “You don’t know who’s going to come through the door, or what donations you’ll receive – it could be anything from a needle to an anchor.
I love the job because you get to know your regular customers. The atmosphere with the volunteers is just fantastic. Plus, you’re giving back to the community.
Joan Douglas couldn’t take her eyes off Concern’s Ormeau Road shop in Belfast before volunteering. Her family-run business was just across the road – and she passed the shop every day, even spending some of her lunchtimes browsing inside for bargains.
After retiring about a year and half ago, Joan decided to become a Concern volunteer.
I always enjoyed coming into the shop when I was working,” she said. “I liked the atmosphere and Concern’s aid and development ethos. I missed meeting people after retirement – and this was a great way to reconnect.
Alison Campbell has always been a big fan of charity shops because they are the perfect place for a hidden gem.
After being made redundant, Alison began volunteering for two shifts a week in one of our shops. And it’s a role that comes naturally to her.
“It’s second nature,” she said. “I was a retailer for a long time. It’s what I do, it’s in my bones. It’s nice just to give something back and know that you’re helping people.
It’s about finding that hidden gem. I delight in getting someone something that they’ll like, cherish, wear and use.
If you would like to volunteer in one of Concern’s shops in Northern Ireland, please contact [email protected]
We partner with a range of organisations that share our passion and the results have been fantastic.