“Charity work brings out the better side of me”

News and Blog

Dawn, our Horsham Shop Manager, has worked in retail for 26 years. Ahead of our new shop opening, Dawn shares why seven of those years has been at St Catherine’s. 

“There have been three different St Catherine’s shops in Horsham and I have worked at all of them – Carfax will be number four. Some customers know me by name and will often say ‘hello’ if they see me out and about.  

“I first started working for St Catherine’s in 2012 and then came back again in 2019. I’ve got lots of experience in mainstream retail but I prefer charity work. I enjoy the variability that it brings and the people you meet. 

“Charity work brings out the better side of me. There is so much passion and heart in the people that work and volunteer for the hospice. I love contributing to a good cause and being part of a team that wants to help others.  

“A typical day in the shop involves sorting donations, signing people up to Gift Aid, and updating various displays. I also spend time researching donations to make sure they are priced and labelled correctly so we can get as much as possible for them. A customer’s journey whilst they are in store is really important. I work hard to ensure all their needs are met and that the shop is safe, tidy, and inviting. 

“I couldn’t do what I do without my volunteers, they are so supportive and always give one hundred percent. I am very open with them about what is going on. We have group chat where I tell them about any promos we have on and share funny stories. This makes them feel part of the team. It is their shop too, so I try to give them some responsibility around running it. I teach them to sort, price, and label donations. I can be quite particular about what items I put out, but I always explain there is a method to my madness. My customers expect good quality items at a reasonable price.  

“As a local charity, the community really cares about St Catherine’s. We touch local people differently to national charities because they are more aware of what we do. 

“We do have customers that are just searching for a bargain, but a lot of our customers and donors have a personal connection to the hospice. It can be hard when someone comes in wanting to donate their loved one’s belongings. Whether their loved one died recently or several years ago, if someone is upset and grieving, it can be difficult to maintain that professional boundary. It is important to be human, but you also need to give them what they need in that moment. I will offer my sympathies and I try to signpost them to where they might be able to get some help. I explain that the hospice provides bereavement support too.” 

With the move to our new premises just around the corner, Dawn shares how she is feeling and what plans she’s got for our new space. 

“I am nervous but excited about the new shop opening. Like moving house, moving shop is stressful, but it’s good to be able to finally put the pedal to the metal and get going with things. I have so much to do and so many ideas. I know my volunteers are excited to help me get everything sorted. We have new fixtures and fittings and an initial plan of where things are going, but I am looking forward to getting creative once we are in. The space we have is great. With donations coming and going all the time, the change and growth will be very organic, so I’ve got to roll with it. 

“I’m looking forward to bringing furniture back to the shop. This is something we had in one of the old Horsham shops and people tell me they miss it. I hope we will be the place people come to in Horsham to get good quality second-hand furniture. I plan to create mini room layouts in the shop to help customers imagine what the furniture could look like in their home.  

“The increased size of our new shop means we’re able to expand Catherine’s Bridal and make it a showstopping feature of the store. With its own look and feel, and its own changing room, brides and grooms will now have the space they need to find a perfect outfit for their big day. 

“Carfax is in a much better location. We are going to be in the town centre so we’ll be more visible – you can’t miss us! We will be right next to the Horsham markets too. We hope to have a stall so we can share more about what the hospice does and educate our community.” 

Since opening, our Bishopric shop sold 110,000 items, worth over £410,000, to 67,000 customers. Among these items are 3,700 packs of Christmas cards and 2,850 balls of wool. Thank you so much to everyone that has supported us. We cannot wait to welcome you to our new store very soon. 

We are on the hunt for volunteers to help us in our brand new shop. Read more about what it means to be a Volunteer Shop Assistant and find details on how to apply here