Summer 2015 was quite a stressful time for me I was working as a Fashion PR, juggling the commute from Brighton to London with major fashion events and clients. I was also working with my husband trying to save our men’s accessories company in quite a volatile department store market.
That Summer was also our third attempt at IVF, sadly this didn’t work for us. With business crumbling and pressure rising I felt a jolt of anxiety and stress, that turned at times, into an overwhelming wave of depression.
We decided to close the accessories company and my husband landed a good job in London. For health reasons, I decided to stop my work as a PR and concentrate on writing more.
I had started to write my blog as a fashion insider back in 2010, now I had a great opportunity to do something I loved and those summer weeks and months helped me to channel my stress into writing and getting better.
Although I loved writing from our studio shed in the garden I still felt lonely and craved other human interaction. I started to volunteer at my local British Red Cross Shop in Shoreham by Sea. First, for one day a week, and then two.
The structure of this gave me something to get up for in the mornings. My back ground as I’ve said was fashion so I loved the fashion aspects, recognising good brands, sorting and pricing items.
During this time volunteers turned into friends and I found myself working in a way I’d not worked before, working not just as a shop volunteer but listening to others concerns and problems. I felt genuinely supported and loved, something that you don’t always feel in Fashion.
People volunteer for many different reasons; sometimes it’s a link between not working for a while and paid work. Sometimes it’s for companionship, friendship, or to work through a dark time in your life, for many it’s a happy safe place to grab a coffee, have a chat and sort some stuff both physically and mentally.
Two and a half years on and I now work for the British Red Cross, I help to manage the team at Shoreham and write pieces like this to highlight what an important place a Charity Shop can be to bring a Community together and engage individuals with problems that society can often overlook.
Our little shop in a relatively small seaside town took over £120,000 last year. I’m so proud of the profits we make but I’m far prouder of our volunteers’ achievements which can be anything from speaking another language to gaining confidence or new skills. My proudest moments strike when you least imagine, I overheard a volunteer with learning difficulties explaining how donating just £5 can save a person’s life. Right there in that little second I felt so proud.
You can volunteer with British Red Cross by going to the website to find your nearest shop.
Or read the recent article in The Shoreham Herald 34https://www.shorehamherald.co.uk/news/health/charity-shop-offers-friendship-and-support-1-8354234