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“I don’t do it for money or the accolades, I do it because I love the charity.”

Sam Williamson, our Reigate Shop Manager, discusses how and why she joined our hospice Trading Team and shares some of her experiences within the role.

“I joined St Catherine’s three years ago after the Marie Curie shop where I previously worked closed. I started in our Dorking shop but transferred to our Reigate store last year as it was closer to home.

Our volunteers are so important.

Throughout lockdown, I messaged or called 47 amazing volunteers across our Reigate and Dorking shops to check that they were all okay.

It was a lovely way for me to get to know the volunteers that I hadn’t met from our Reigate store before I started.

When the shop officially reopened last July, I felt as though I’d known them all for years.

For me, volunteers are the heart and soul of our shops.

We couldn’t do what we do without them – we’re honestly like a family and they mean everything to me. For Volunteers’ Week I even made them a card to say thank you and show my appreciation, and for new starters in our Reigate shop I’ve made a ‘St Catherine’s Hospice Survival Kit’, with: a gold star, a jigsaw piece, extra eyes, matchsticks, rubber band, paper clip, teabag and a penny. Each item in the kit has a meaning behind it.

Every day is different.

Donations are always coming in, customers are always asking questions and other departments are always getting in touch.

However, this is the first job where I don’t wake up and dread going into work; I’m incredibly passionate about what I do. I don’t work here for the money or the accolades, I do it because I love our charity.

My nan died six months before I started working here and she received community care from our hospice, so I like to think that this job was her looking out for me.

Many of our supporters have also had a personal experience with us.

A lot of our donors have an emotional connection to our hospice so it can be upsetting at times, but I wouldn’t hear such wonderful stories in any other role.

There’s a gentleman that regularly donates to our Reigate shop as we cared for his wife. We calculated that his donations alone have raised approximately £10,000 – a large part came from a Cartier watch that he donated, and we sold online for over £3,700!

We recently also had a donation of fizzy orange, handmade wax melts for us to sell from Suds n Stuff as we supported a family member a few years ago.

Gift Aid makes a big contribution to the total amount raised in our shops.

Gift Aid allows us to make an extra 25% on an item. I always encourage our donors to sign up to Gift Aid if they haven’t already as it’s such a quick and easy way to help us raise more money.

If there was one thing I wish I could tell people…

It’s that people who donate items don’t tend to buy. Often, they’re trying to get rid of stuff and therefore don’t want to buy anything in its place, or simply just choose to shop elsewhere.

I wish I could tell people “don’t be afraid” of charity shops.

There’s such a stigma around the idea that it’s okay to donate, but not to buy, when in reality we only sell items that are in extremely good condition.”

To find out more about our charity shops and to find your local store please click here

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