What are your experiences of working in a charity shop?

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BurstingBubbles
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I'm thinking of volunteering, probably in a charity shop, in my summer holiday. Has anyone volunteered in a charity shop? What's it like? Busy, boring? Thanks
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claireestelle
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
I'm thinking of volunteering, probably in a charity shop, in my summer holiday. Has anyone volunteered in a charity shop? What's it like? Busy, boring? Thanks
I did it for a couple of years during my GCSE/as year. It was a tiny shop but always plenty of cleaning and sorting donations to do so pretty busy
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by claireestelle)
I did it for a couple of years during my GCSE/as year. It was a tiny shop but always plenty of cleaning and sorting donations to do so pretty busy
Ah awesome! Did you do it regularly, i.e every Saturday morning, or could you chose when you were free? Like, if you went on holiday were they okay about you not going for that time?
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claireestelle
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
Ah awesome! Did you do it regularly, i.e every Saturday morning, or could you chose when you were free? Like, if you went on holiday were they okay about you not going for that time?
I did it after school and some Saturday's but they were okay if I went on holiday or couldn't do it for a particular day generally it's really flexible volunteering at charity shops
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by claireestelle)
I did it after school and some Saturday's but they were okay if I went on holiday or couldn't do it for a particular day generally it's really flexible volunteering at charity shops
Sounds perfect for the summer holidays if I want to go on holiday then I suppose it all depends on the charity shop itself, and something to ask when I enquire. Did you have like an interview type thing to volunteer there?
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claireestelle
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
Sounds perfect for the summer holidays if I want to go on holiday then I suppose it all depends on the charity shop itself, and something to ask when I enquire. Did you have like an interview type thing to volunteer there?
As it was in my little home town it was a simple as asking if I could volunteer there, nothing formal to it really
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fire_and_ice
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It was horrible. It smelt like dead people, some of the customers were probably drug-users (well, I assume they were since their teeth were stained and their nails were absolutely filthy), I had to deal with clothes that probably not washed and there was no chair for me to sit on when I worked at the cashier. The only thing that made it tolerable was my new friend and being able to go to Borough market to get great food.
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username2151383
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THE OLD WOMEN WHO WORK THERE ARE SOOOO RUDE!!!!!!
not to me, but they gossip so much about other people they know, make fun of all the donations, and complain a lot about the customers
though that can be funny sometimes
But I'd say it's pretty good overall just wish I went later in the day
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username1221160
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I did for a number of years in a bookshop specialising in academic second hand books. Many elements are comparable to normal retail work. Some of the unique things like sorting book donations ( indentifying potentially rare books and pulping the crap) were enjoyable. We got some odd "donations" as well like sex toys, soiled underwear, broadswords and what turned out to be an imitation WWI grenade.

How you find it will depend on the type of shop. I know people who were just bored senseless working in some of the more basic charity shops.
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thecatwithnohat
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All I did was steam clothes and label books.
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dalejb1234
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Shop floor isn't that bad, but i volunteered once in a Stockroom area in a Charity shop, opened a bag and was lovely bitten by something fleas or whatever but had a lovely rash for a while
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Tw1x
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I hated it, it was so dull. I didnt feel like I was contributing in any way whatsoever and would'nt have probably done it, even if I was getting paid.
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Kvothe the Arcane
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Extremely boring and tedious. You're made aware that you're free labour and as it's so far removed from the good the charity does, you never get the sense of satisfaction that other forms of volunteering bring.
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Nicoley-oley
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I had a pretty terrible experience volunteering in one a couple years back, the managers treated the lower volunteers like dirt and abused their positions constantly, the customers could be a mix of thieving ass holes who think they can take advantage of the fact that the shop is being run by two inexperienced 16 year olds or there are snobby people who complain at the price of a £3 cardigan just because it's missing a button and taking it out on the young volunteers who don't make the rules... Also, even though you're a volunteer, you're completely swept off your feet doing all the dirty work and constricted by strict rules and scolded if you're late or if your didn't do what they asked to the standards they were hoping for despite your inexperience, as if the managers had forgotten that us volunteers have given up our weekends for free to help them out...
The shops themselves can range from a ghost town for hours on end to Piccadilly Circus, so be prepared for that.

I don't mean to put you off... It may only be a handful of places that are like this, just be wary of them.

If you really want to volunteer somewhere, I'd whole heartedly recommend an animal shelter if you're an animal lover, it's extremely rewarding, great fun and a door opener into charity events like sponsored walks, and charity dog shows etc.
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BurstingBubbles
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It's a good job I posted this thread because I had no idea it could be this bad! :eek: What other volunteering could I do similar to this?
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llegalbeagle
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Just to give an alternative view - as part of both my D of E and AQA Baccalaureate I opted to work in a charity shop. It wasn't too bad actually and it gives you some important transferable skills that could be useful later i.e. communication, organisation, multitasking & interacting with a a variety of people. I also had the chance to operate the till which would be useful to note if you ever wanted to work in retail part time or something.


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Tessie25
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I just got stuck in the backroom and was told off when I spoke to a customer. They constantly changed their policy on who could do pricing or put stock on the rails, and after an argument between a manager and one staff member they fired all of the staff working that day (which was their entire workforce, except for me as I wasn't in). Then they started lamenting that they were understaffed (you just fired everyone???) and tried to pull me in for extra hours, but they were even stricter on who could do what, wouldn't let me near the tills or customers or do anything other than sorting through bags of often unusable clothes (when will people learn that no one can sell your used underwear?). I'd developed a good relationship with all of the staff and it was super boring after they'd all been sacked for seemingly no reason. In the end I just walked out, because I wasn't getting paid enough to put up with all of this bull and in fact I wasn't getting paid at all.
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Tw1x
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
It's a good job I posted this thread because I had no idea it could be this bad! :eek: What other volunteering could I do similar to this?
It depends why you mainly want to volunteer - are you doing it because you genuinely want to make a difference or just to gain some valuable skills to get a job? If you are doing it because you want a part time job something in retail will be good because at your age thats more likely your job options. Not everywhere will be bad like our experiences and they do give you good skills for your cv; dealing with customers, stock organisation, various interpersonal skills, time management, working alone and in a team etc. etc.
It would be better if you could tailor your volunteering to both though; something related to what you want to do for a career/job and something that makes you want to make a difference. If you like reading maybe a library and eventually work up to running a reading group for younger people to encourage reading. If you like animals maybe a shelter. Or in a hospital or care home. That sort of thing. Sometimes you will have bad experiences with volunteering but try to make the most of it or find something else - theres nothing more depressing than having to force yourself to go when you aren't even getting paid for it.
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shawtyb
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
I'm thinking of volunteering, probably in a charity shop, in my summer holiday. Has anyone volunteered in a charity shop? What's it like? Busy, boring? Thanks
i applied as a volunteer admin which i was initially accepted for however they just had me steaming clothes and doing stock rotations the whole time! the staff was rude and the amount of fire and health hazards was horrendous. this was with the british heart foundation.

i then went on to do volunteer admin work at a mental health charity called mind and they were far more welcoming and professional.

you can guess which one went on my CV!
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shawtyb
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(Original post by Tessie25)
I just got stuck in the backroom and was told off when I spoke to a customer. They constantly changed their policy on who could do pricing or put stock on the rails, and after an argument between a manager and one staff member they fired all of the staff working that day (which was their entire workforce, except for me as I wasn't in). Then they started lamenting that they were understaffed (you just fired everyone???) and tried to pull me in for extra hours, but they were even stricter on who could do what, wouldn't let me near the tills or customers or do anything other than sorting through bags of often unusable clothes (when will people learn that no one can sell your used underwear?). I'd developed a good relationship with all of the staff and it was super boring after they'd all been sacked for seemingly no reason. In the end I just walked out, because I wasn't getting paid enough to put up with all of this bull and in fact I wasn't getting paid at all.
that sounds alot like the one i volunteered at!!
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