Emma is our Caterham Shop Manager and has been with the team since the shop first opened, taking donations, speaking with customers and representing our hospice in the Caterham area. Joined by one of our incredible volunteers, Rita, the pair share more about their experience and why the shop is so important.
“I moved to Caterham about eleven years ago and was looking for a job. I was working in Subway at the time but I really didn’t enjoy it,” says Emma.
“I was walking past one day when they were fitting the shop out and they had an advertisement in the window for a Shop Manager position – so I applied. I had the interview, went back to my shift at Subway and about an hour later they called and said, ‘we’d like to offer you the job’. I was over the moon.
Each day is different.
We’re very lucky that we get a lot of donations, so typically a lot of the day will be spent taking in and sorting donations, signing people up to Gift Aid and helping the public. I also spend a lot of time looking things up on the computer to make sure I’m getting the right price for things. We’re quite good at selling vinyl and we sell a lot of cameras – we’ll often get people come in because they know that we sell those specific items.
We spend a lot of time speaking to people, listening to their stories and being there for them too. Sometimes you’ll get emotional yourself because you really feel for people and what they’ve been through. I don’t have a personal connection to the hospice but it’s more than likely that I will at some point, being in Caterham, being here for over ten years and knowing people in the area.
A lot of our regular donors donate because they’ve lost a loved one, and a few of our volunteers, like Rita, volunteer here because the hospice has cared for someone close.”
Rita’s husband was referred to the hospice in 2014 after being diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.
“He was in the hospice three times to get his pain under control, and then the hospice organised for him to be home,” explains Rita. “They did everything. They organised the hospital bed, the hoist – everything.
When the hospice was first mentioned, we both thought ‘eugh’, but once he was in, that was it. We were sold. Each time he was cared for, he was cared for like he was at home. It could be two o’clock in the morning and they’d bring him ice cream if he wanted it. I could sleep beside the bed and the nurse would bring me tea and toast in the morning. It was just amazing.
My husband died in the January.
I rattled around for a bit after that – I wasn’t coping at all. I then had bereavement counselling with the hospice which was amazing, it really helped. I thought to myself, ‘that’s what I’ll do, I’ll come and volunteer here’.
I’ve been volunteering here for six years now.
I do it twice a week, and it’s my reason to get out of bed. I don’t work anymore, so it’s something to fill my time. I love doing this. Anyone who has been in my situation, I always say to them, ‘think about volunteering for something’.
When you’re losing someone close to you, it takes up a massive part of your life. I was up and down the M23 everyday to the hospice, coming home late – I had nothing else in my life. When that stopped, it was like a chasm. I’m retired so I had no work to fill it up with, and I remember thinking, ‘what am I going to do?’
I know my husband would not have wanted me to give up. He would not have wanted me to go under. So for me, this is what happened. It’s filled a huge gap in my life.”
Emma’s favourite thing about working for the hospice is knowing that her whole team are making a difference.
“I’m really passionate about my job and what I do – I just try to raise as much money as I can for the hospice. It’s tiring at times, and it can be stressful, but you know that what you’re doing everyday is making a difference. I’ve always been passionate about working for St Catherine’s.
I was a Shop Manager for Superdrug for eight years. Working in a charity shop means every day is different. There’s always something new: new people coming through the door, new donors, new volunteers, new customers.
It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”