Tag Archives: Volunteering

Behind the scenes at a Scope charity shop

Guest post by Katie Adams, Scope media officer

I had never worked in charity shops before. In fact I have to admit I’d never actually experienced working in any kind of shop before this week. So I was excited.

Part of the induction into my new role as a Media Officer for retail at Scope was to find out more about how our charity shops are run, as well as meeting the key people behind them.

Looking forward to my two days at the Stamford Hill store, I arrived as the shop opened for business and just as a whole host of volunteers were also beginning their day at the busy branch.

My first few hours were spent with manager, Shallini, and head volunteer, Barbara, who explained exactly how clothes spend a certain amount of time on the shop floor before moving on to other Scope branches.

I got to take down the old stock and put out the new, which included the creative task of dressing the mannequins with what I thought would attract passing shoppers and help make more money for Scope.

It was evident that Shallini knew her customers’ needs well and crafted her shop window displays to attract people she said loved their designer brands, as well as eye-catching colours and trendy accessories.

Meeting the volunteers

Chatting to the volunteers gave me an interesting insight into why they give up their own precious time to help Scope and many find the experience a way of giving back to society or a chance to meet others.

One man who had once worked in a pressured office environment told me volunteering had made him realise he wanted to find new employment focused on helping people, rather than making someone a profit.

These volunteers are key in making sure things run efficiently at the store through the sorting of donations, manning of the till, security and cleaning of the shop floor.

Donations are so important

The shop was constantly busy during my two-day visit with scores of shoppers trying on outfits, buying new bags and browsing through the books, CDs and DVDs on offer.

Because of the popularity of the stock it was clear to see just how important regular donations from the public really are.

Without people’s bags of donated goods and clothes, the shop wouldn’t be able to keep up with the high demand of its consumers.

Spending time with the team at Stamford Hill was an interesting, fun and eye-opening experience and I would encourage people to volunteer if they can, or at least donate some unwanted items and help our shops keep up the good work.

Become a volunteer for Scope.

Working as an intern in Scope’s campaigns team

Today marks my third week working as an intern in Scope’s campaigns team. They haven’t fired me yet, so I figure I must be doing something right! I’ll be working here part-time for the next three months, and I already feel like I’m setting in nicely.

I’ve just moved back home from university, and will finish my MA in Political Theory at the end of August when I submit my dissertation. If you ever want someone to ramble at you about social construction, implicit bias and stereotypes against marginalised groups, I am definitely your girl. This position was my first interview post-university, so naturally I’m thrilled to have the job, and I’m hoping that this marks the start of a fulfilling career in the campaigning charity sector.

This is my first office job, and all the trimmings of office life seem very novel and exciting to me – my own desk with a little stationery pot, the ever-flowing tea and coffee and even my own work email account. But Scope isn’t just any office. Here, there’s a definite sense of people working together for a common goal that is larger and more important than simply turning over a profit.

As a disabled person, it’s also pretty nice to find myself in an environment where disability is unremarkable, where the gleam of wheels or the sight of snoozing service animals is present and perfectly ordinary. It’s nice to know that no one will bat an eyelid when I get my insulin out at lunch or take my medication with my tea in the afternoon.

I’m having a great time. I’m learning loads about the way a campaigning organisation works, and I’m working with great people who value my input and include me in their work. I have a sneaking suspicion that the next three months are going to fly by.

Find out more about volunteering vacancies with Scope.

Shops volunteering

Looking for something new to do in the new year? How about volunteering in one of Scope’s shops?

Last year, 7,874 volunteers across Scope donated 1.7 million hours of their time. Many of them worked in one of our 247 shops in a variety of roles. See the types of volunteer roles on offer.

It was bitterly cold when I left my cosy computer to volunteer at my local Scope shop but I received a warm welcome from Thatcham shop manager Marlene Dredge, who has 34 volunteers, including disabled volunteers from Mencap Link and people doing community service, but can always use an extra pair of hands.

The Thatcham shop is the top seller of Christmas cards in the Berkshire area, having sold over one thousand packs. The shop also won third place in the window display competition in the Kingsland Centre this year – not bad considering the display was made with donated goods and no budget!

The volunteers love dressing up and recently created a winter wonderland with resident characters such as the Ice Princess, Snowman, Mrs Santa and Bah Humbug.

Although it’s a fun atmosphere, Marlene keeps everyone busy! That morning, there were more takeoffs at Thatcham than at Gatwick airport – Marlene took 334 items of clothing off the show floor to send for sale to the Petersfield shop. Folding and bagging clothes is quite tiring but worth it to keep the stock fresh for the shop’s many regular customers who help raise upwards of £2,000 a week to fund Scope’s work.

Despite horror stories of soiled (that’s being polite) clothing, nappies and sanitary towels (why? What’s wrong with the dustbin?), most of the donations we received on the day were clean, saleable and of good quality. A house clearance caused a bit of a panic in the small stock room – we could hardly move for stuff but Marlene says, “We accept everything, except bulky furniture, electrical items and husbands with suitcases!”

Nevertheless, we were relieved when the textiles lorry made it through the snow from Kent to take away the rags we couldn’t sell! Find out what Scope shops want. 

The highlight of my day was meeting Violet, who comes in every afternoon to work on the till and keep the bric-a-brac stocked up. She set up the original Spastics Society shop in Thatcham over 20 years ago and still is full of enthusiasm for volunteering.

Volunteer for Scope shops and, like Violet, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are making a vital difference to our work with disabled people.

You’ll learn new skills and gain retail experience as well as meeting new people and becoming part of a team.

You could also gain:

  • Professional qualifications
  • Community spirit – feel part of your local area
  • Disability awareness – you’ll learn more about Scope’s work
  • Paid work – learn about and apply for job vacancies at Scope

If you would like to volunteer, please contact your local Scope shop to discuss your interests and find out which roles are available.