Shoreham Herald

British Red Cross Blog – January 2018

When volunteers become friends: why helping at a Red Cross shop can be more than just a job

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Deborah Simpson-Boston, manager of the Red Cross shop in Shoreham-on-sea © British Red Cross

From mothers and sons to fashionistas – volunteering in a British Red Cross shop is something anyone can do.

Whether you have several afternoons a week to spare, or just a few hours at the weekend, we can use your help.

But for a volunteer and shop manager, working at one of our shops meant even more than just giving their time to a valuable cause.

Deborah Simpson-Boston is 44 and originally from Durham. She became a volunteer at the Red Cross shop in Shoreham-by-Sea in 2015 as a way of helping her manage stress and anxiety.

“As a volunteer I felt genuinely supported and loved”

“The structure of volunteering at my local Red Cross shop gave me something to get up for in the mornings,” Deborah recalled.

“Volunteers turned into friends and I found myself working in a way I hadn’t before – not just as a shop volunteer but listening to others’ concerns and problems.”

With a background in fashion PR, Deborah was also able to use the volunteering opportunity to put her experience to good use.

Three years on, she is manager of the shop – and alongside this writes a blog.

“Our little shop in a relatively small seaside town took nearly £120,000 last year,” said Deborah.

“I’m so proud of the profits we make but I’m (even) prouder of our volunteers’ achievements.

“Volunteering for the British Red Cross can be for companionship, friendship, or to work through a dark time in your life.

“Sometimes it’s used to build confidence, and for many it’s a happy, safe place to grab a coffee, have a chat and feel better physically and mentally.

“(Because) my background is in fashion, I’ve loved this aspect to retail volunteering: recognising good brands and sorting and pricing items.

“As a volunteer I felt genuinely supported and loved.”

“I’m making a difference to someone else’s life”

This blog was written by Rachael Dry, media relations officer for the British Red Cross

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