What's it like volunteering in Charity Shops?

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DeterminedDreamer
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Hey
I've am considering doing some voluntary work in the charity shops in my local area, I've been to enquire today about it and picked up some applications forms. So I thought I'd ask those of you have done this kind of thing before what is it like? Are there good days and bad days like there are at school? What are the best jobs to do around the shop you worked at? Any advice and information would be appreciated.
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acer0951
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(Original post by DeterminedDreamer)
Hey
I've am considering doing some voluntary work in the charity shops in my local area, I've been to enquire today about it and picked up some applications forms. So I thought I'd ask those of you have done this kind of thing before what is it like? Are there good days and bad days like there are at school? What are the best jobs to do around the shop you worked at? Any advice and information would be appreciated.
I did one day at oxfam and it wasn't too bad! The people are nice but mind you the stock room does smell a bit! I would probably do 2 days maximum but work hard and try learn as much in those two days!


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PeterJames69
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It's pretty easy work, I worked at St Luke's and you'll learn how to use the till, how to restock and those small little jobs. If I'm honest it gets quite boring quickly, unless you have fun people with you.
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helen-a-ravenclaw
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I did about 15 months volunteering in my local Oxfam shop when I was 15/16 and it was really great! I did four hours every Saturday.

At first I started off really quite nervous, but I soon gained a lot of confidence and really felt like part of the team. Don't worry about it being all older people either, we had a mix of younger people and the more elderly (though I was the youngest one there!)

I would work on the till, do pricing, steaming, window displays and do stock replenishment as my basic jobs. As I worked there for longer, I became more trusted so would take the days money to the bank down the road.

I also did a lot of computer work for them, typing up signs and letters because I had the patience to work with the old computer in the stock room upstairs.

It was a really great experience for me, I felt like a valued part of the team and had a lot of fun. Some days weren't so great, you would get some strange customers asking for discounts on things (in a CHARITY shop), but you got to know reguluar customers who remembered you and could have a nice conversation with.

It was my first proper job. When I left I got a reference for any future jobs I applied for, and I would recommend anyone to do some volunteering just to gain some work experience and to do something valuable with your time instead of watching tv or wasting the day away infront of the computer.
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Sean9001
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I've been working with the Red Cross two days a week for a month now. As another poster said, the people make it. You're jobs will be menial and tedious, but 'we're all in it together'. For me, I don't enjoy the job itself. Nor do I get pleasure from the feeling of selflessness that some get by working for charity. It's purely in an effort to beef out my CV with something that may raise an employer's eyebrows. Since many students have a paid work, or no work mentality.

You should jump at the opportunity. Even if through self concerned opportunism.
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DeterminedDreamer
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Thanks for all your posts so far, wow four responses in less than an hour. I'm going to have a good think about this, and see which charity I'd like to volunteer for the most out of the ones I've got forms for :rolleyes:
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CantThinkOfaUsername
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I'd try and choose a fairly busy charity shop/one in quite a central area if possible. When I was 15, I worked once a week in a small one for around a year but to be honest, with three people at a time, we were overstaffed. Often, there would only be one customer every two or three hours, sometimes longer. They had more donations that they could sell so a lot of the time, they ended up having to just give them to another charity shop in a busier part of the town. So it might be more worthwhile to volunteer at somewhere fairly busy as they'll need the help more
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HotfireLegend
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A bit boring. I do all day Thurs and half day Fri, and if the delivery is late on Thurs, there's not much to do. Fri is more crowded and I can usually man the till then, but making errors is embarrassing as this is the type of till that prints as you go along so you can't undo :P
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Amhorangerdgerriug
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I worked at Oxfam and had a great time. You meet so many characters: one guy kept getting calls from his parole officer and one guy smelt so strongly people would start coughing at the till when he served them and would go out of their way to walk somewhere else when he was stacking shelves; he would have a circle of space around him.
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SpanishInquisition
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Wholly agree with what Sean9001 said. I work in a charity shop 2 days a week after school as part of my Duke Of Edinburgh Award. The work is repetitive and sometimes disgusting (clothes that stink of fish etc), but it's the people that make it. Luckily the days I volunteer have some very nice oldish ladies who are a great laugh and are very easy going. A few of my friends who are also doing DofE also do it so that helps. My jobs include checking donations for obviously awful/dangerous stuff and putting the surviving stuff into 'Gift Aid' sacks. Then I take it out of that sack, tag it, put it on a hanger then put it on the rail. Lather, rinse , repeat . I also make tea. Lotsa tea. If you're under 16 (like me) you can't work the till or directly serve customers so yeah. I don't get that warm fuzzy charity work glow but it's a good laugh purely because of the people I work with. Looks good on the old curriculum vitae as well so there's that.

Basically, try and enlist one of your mates to come along for at least the first few times until you get a feel for the work. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised.
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silverwolf94
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It's much better then you think, i volunteered at Barnardo's charity shop for 9 months it was great.

It has a lot of variety to the day, meeting new customers, looking at the latest stuff people bring in which is sometimes stuff i never saw before.

It really increases your self-esteem and i got 20% discount off which is good as the charity shop was cheap enough as it was.
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Dust.
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I currently volunteer at Books for Amnesty and it's great! It gets dull, boring and repetative but you feel so good about yourself after it Plus it's a great Law PS booster.
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advent2
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(Original post by DeterminedDreamer)
Hey
I've am considering doing some voluntary work in the charity shops in my local area, I've been to enquire today about it and picked up some applications forms. So I thought I'd ask those of you have done this kind of thing before what is it like? Are there good days and bad days like there are at school? What are the best jobs to do around the shop you worked at? Any advice and information would be appreciated.
I volunteered in a British Heart Foundation charity shop for six months full time. It was great for me as I was really shy at the time so it really brought me out of my shell having to interact with customers on a daily basis.

The retail experience it gave me in working a till and dealing with customers also helped me to get my first paid job. I also got some voluntary accreditation for doing it through my local CVS (Council for Voluntary Service.) I got a 100 hours volunteering certificate (100 was the maximum they awarded!), NOCN Accredited Volunteers certificate and ASDAN Community Volunteering certificate.

Doing voluntary work always gives you something to discuss at job interviews and it shows that you're willing to work hard without financial gain. It's also the source of a good reference.

As for the work itself, I mainly operated the till serving customers and helped to rotate the stock. I was the youngest working there (16 at the time), it was mainly middle aged/older women. The only other young people working there where people doing community service. I was often asked how many hours I had left.

I have fond memories of my time working there, made some good friends on the staff and as an earlier poster said, you get to know the regular customers. It got my first paid job and it contributed to the scholarship I got for university.
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Converse Rocker
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Started at Age UK today and it's really not that bad. Gets a bit boring at times just checking labels but once you get familiar with staff you can start talking to them while working. I did the till a few times and the money is normally round numbers, so you can't really get confused.

Overall it's worth it, I'd say go for it if you can Feels good doing charity work but let's be honest a lot of us relish it because saying 'I volunteer at X' looks good on a personal statement. For the satisfaction and personal statement reasons, go for it.
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BeccaAnne94
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It can be pretty fun if there's other people your own age there, unfortunately the guy that usually worked during my second hour wasn't very consistent so I couldn't always depend on him being there meaning that I always ended up working with 3-4 elderly women who enjoyed buying things before they officially went on the shop floor and moaning about the world.
Naturally as I was the youngest I was assigned all the heavy lifting jobs including lifting boxes full of books and weighing rags quite often .
On the bright side, it can be very varied depending on what needs doing and you can learn valuable experience which can help you get a job in retail.
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McMedic
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(Original post by DeterminedDreamer)
Hey
I've am considering doing some voluntary work in the charity shops in my local area, I've been to enquire today about it and picked up some applications forms. So I thought I'd ask those of you have done this kind of thing before what is it like? Are there good days and bad days like there are at school? What are the best jobs to do around the shop you worked at? Any advice and information would be appreciated.
I have volunteered with Barnardos for almost a year and I am continuing to do so. Pretty easy jobs and just being nice to customers and displaying goods/keeping the shop floor tidy.

Flexible hours for good experience! Definitely do it as it will boost your application and you're doing something nice at the same time! X


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llessur123
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Boring and somewhat irritating.
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This Honest
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I worked at Oxfam for 1 month 2 years ago and at first it was a little boring but once you get to know the people there (I had 3 other people my age ) it becomes better!

I sorted out clothes, worked on the till (first time! ) supervising with the store and helping in customer service.
Also used the price gun to price items for sale.
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PeoplesChampion
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The people were nice but it boring when I was working by myself. About sums it up.
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pinkbullets
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I volunteered in Barnados for eight months. I mostly sorted through the stock, sometimes served customers and did a lot of steaming and pricing items. It was quite boring sometimes but it was more fulfilling than sitting around and watching tv all day. Unfortunately I think I worked in the worst store in the world. The jobcentre continuosly sent people on the dole in to volunteer and they really hated being there and spent all day whinging about needing a fag. It was also very disorganised, had no real manager and the guy who was supposed to be in charge just randomly wouldn't open up some days and forget to tell me which was a massive waste of my time. And then he *****ed all day about his area manager, the targets he was set and pretty much all of the staff. He did take a liking to me though so it wasn't that bad. Unfortunately, he was a very creepy guy and I quit because he made me so uncomfortable.
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