Andy - Shop and Fundraising Volunteer | The Hospice of St. Francis

Andy - Shop and Fundraising Volunteer

“After a difficult period following a significant motorcycle accident, which did me a lot of damage, and required a long period of recovery - I started volunteering, as I was not working, or able to work in terms of full-time paid employment. I wanted to be doing something with my time that I could manage physically without too much pressure on myself.”

Our next feature for Volunteers Week is Andy from Berkhamsted, a volunteer at our Berkhamsted shop and valued member of the team! This is his first volunteer position and he began his role at the shop in January 2019. He is a keen cook, describes himself as ‘slightly obsessed with food’ and has a great affinity with nature, especially walking in the countryside.

“My role at the shop has been a mixed bag really. I predominantly work in the back of the shop receiving and processing donations. I sort the donations, clothing and bric-à-brac preparing them for sale in the shop. I am generally pretty handy at fixing things too, so I can repair some donations that may otherwise be thrown away, and I do some general repairs around the shop when needed.

I’m useful at fixing watches and changing the batteries. I’ve also done a number of shifts working on the till in the shop, generally to cover days when they are short staffed.”

Andy describes how after his accident he wanted to get involved in volunteering…

“I really wanted to try and be helpful and do something, however small, to help others, while I had time on my hands. Volunteering at the shop was perfect for me as I could help while I was recovering.

My dad had raised money for the HOSF in the past, (through the rotary club etc.) and I knew it was such a great and caring organisation. I really wanted to join the team at the shop to try to do my bit where possible. My Grandmother received care from the Hospice many years ago too, so the organisation was always in my mind and I was so happy when the shop took me on.

I am now as recovered as I can be, but do not want to leave the shop as I do enjoy it so much. I need to find paid employment, but if I do, I hope I can still find time to help at the shop!”

Andy studied Food Science and Technology after leaving school and qualified as a food technologist as well as studying as an artist covering photography and printing. He also worked as a senior chef, for a total of around 10 years for a few restaurants, in addition to I working as a self-employed gardener.

“I’m willing to admit that I have suffered from depression since I was a child and have struggled throughout my life with significant periods of time where I have found life very hard to cope with.

I have a lack of confidence, which certainly holds me back a great deal. The Hospice shop has been a breath of fresh air for me, as I feel so comfortable in my role and with all those who I work with. It has certainly helped with my confidence as I have simply been accepted for who I am.

I guess these days; the shop is my biggest interest/hobby as it gives me so much peace of mind, and a great distraction from myself. I love working at the shop. There is no particular area I have a preference to, but I enjoy sorting through the bric-à-brac. This is mainly due to my interest in antiques and my fascination with the items that arrive in the shop.”

He continues, “…I love working with all the managers and other volunteers within the shop, as they are all so kind, helpful and have been supportive and welcoming to me since I started. It always feels like I am among friends. I just like being there.

I think volunteering, as I do, gives a limited perspective on the overall organisation and the number of areas that the Hospice covers. I am very aware though of the support that the Hospice offers to those who need and rely on the care provided.

I know what I do is a tiny part of the whole organisation, but no less important than any of the other areas when combined. Fundraising for any charity is essential. I know the lockdowns affected the fundraising possibilities hugely so it is great that the wheels are turning again. I have the upmost respect for the incredible work the Hospice does in the community. I feel very happy to do my tiny bit to help and support where I can.”

We asked Andy about his favourite memories at the shop. He replies…

“It sounds a bit corny, but generally, every day is a fond memory. I have a laugh with either work colleagues or members of the public. I get to meet some interesting people. I get to look into the lives of people, by way of the items they bring to the shop. It is genuinely a lovely place to be, and I always look forward to going to the shop… I have to drag myself away from what I am doing at the end of my shift.

I love shifts where items come in that excite me, as I know they will sell quickly and make good money for the shop. It is great when the team equals my enthusiasm. I always want to save everything that comes in, which is not always possible though. It amuses Claire (Shop Manager). I have a bit of a ‘hoarder mentality’.

I have some fond memories working with the sadly missed Marilyn too (who passed away last year). She loved the garden at the shop, as I do. We used to talk a lot about it. I will be planting some sunflowers in the shop’s garden this year in her memory, as they were one of her favourite flowers.”

We asked Andy how it felt to be back in the shop following Lockdown 3.0…

“Firstly, it has been absolutely awesome returning to the shop since lockdown! I missed it so much, as I think did everyone? I kept my eye on the shop during lockdown, as I walk past the back of the shop every morning on the way back from my daily walk. I had to repair the gate at one point after a break in, and dealt with some fly tipping too, so I guess I never really quite left the shop during lockdown.

There was a certain amount of trepidation being around so many people at the beginning, but I felt safe and was just happy to be back.

Andy concludes, “I love the fact that the public gave their support right from the get go when we returned. People were desperate to support the shop, which is brilliant. Everyone was respectful of the limited numbers allowed in the shop and were so patient, even queuing in the rain! We have since been so busy which creates a fair bit of chaos at times in a compact shop, but it is great to be in that position. So happy to be back amongst my Hospice family.”

#YourPreciousLife #WeLoveYourSupport #VolunteerHerts #VolunteerDacorum