Volunteering in a pandemic: Julie & Peter’s story

St Clare volunteers, Julie and Peter Rose, have supported the Hospice for over 8 years. From working in the Harlow shop, volunteering with eBay and even dressing up as Clare Bear! They were determined to continue supporting St Clare throughout the COVID pandemic, and here they share some of their experiences from the past year.
Published on: Wednesday 05 May 2021 at 09:27

Julie: “I started as a volunteer in the Harlow shop back in 2013. After experiencing cancer myself, and knowing people who have lost loved ones at St Clare, I know just how important it is that the Hospice is there for our community – and I wanted to give something back.”

“The Harlow shop is a great charity shop, and I’ve made some lovely friends whilst working there. Everyone has their own story of why they volunteer, and what St Clare means to them, and we have a really fun time working together.”

Peter: “I just used to drop Julie off at the shop to do her volunteering, but one week the manager approached me and said they could do with some more help, and would I consider volunteering. I had recently retired, this was back in 2015, and I had time on my hands – so I thought, why not get involved too!”

“The Harlow shop is St Clare’s biggest and busiest store, and we always have piles of donations coming in. You get such a buzz working there!”

“Supporting charity shops is so important, a lot of the donations I sort through would otherwise have gone to landfill – so you realise it is not just about raising money for the Hospice, but also about helping to save the environment too.”

Julie: “I’ve also been volunteering with eBay team for a number of years, and find that I get a real buzz from seeing just how much an item I have listed on the website, manages to sell for. I help to choose items from the Harlow shop donations that we think are worth more, and could raise more funds for the Hospice if sold on eBay. It gives you a real sense of achievement, and you know that all your hard work is making a real difference to the Hospice.”

“We’re willing to do anything we can to help the Hospice, and have both even been known to dress up as Clare Bear – the charity’s mascot! I was Clare Bear on one of the hottest days of the year, dressing up for the Harlow carnival. It was so hot in the costume, but it was lovely to see the children enjoying seeing Clare Bear, and raising vital funds as we did it.”

Volunteering in COVID times

Peter: “Over the past year, all of the St Clare shops have had to close for long periods of time due to the COVID restrictions. This has caused a huge loss in vital income for the charity – and also, personally, it has meant a large part of our weekly routine has been missing. We’re so used to keeping busy, and we missed the buzz we get when we support St Clare.”

“Rather than sitting back and doing nothing, we looked for new ways to help the Hospice in any way we could.”

“When the summer lockdown ended, we were so pleased to be back in the Harlow shop, helping to deep clean the store, and put in place all the new measures so that the shop could open safely for shoppers and donators. We were delighted to welcome people back to the shop over the summer, but then of course we went into another lockdown in December.”

“We will do anything to help the Hospice, we are always up for helping out. So when we heard about the Christmas Tree Recycling campaign, we were happy to volunteer ourselves.”

“In the run up to the campaign we handed out flyers through people’s doors, and delivered over 2,000 of the leaflets! Then the collection days themselves in the New Year were two, quite long, days. It was a different thing to do, and a good way to fill our time whilst the shops were closed. We drove a van round together – with Julie as navigator – and that’s always entertaining as a couple! She would say ‘go that way!’ and I would shout ‘what way?!’”

“It was brilliant to hear that the Christmas Tree Recycling programme raised over £14,000 for the Hospice, and we were so happy to be given the opportunity to continue to help St Clare during the pandemic.”

A rewarding experience

Julie: “The nice thing about working in a small organisation, is the feeling you get that you are making a difference, you are treated as equals by the staff, and that your work is recognised – even by the patients themselves. When we meet with other volunteers from different areas of the Hospice, you see that whatever role people play – whether volunteering on the Inpatient Unit, or working in another shop – they enjoy what they do, and get a buzz out of helping a good cause. It is very rewarding.”

“Volunteering with St Clare feels like such a good use of our time. You know exactly where the money you raise is going, and hearing the wonderful things people say about St Clare’s care just makes it all worth it. Hearing about the new services the Hospice has launched recently – like their new bereavement support services – which all need funding, makes you feel proud that our work has helped the Hospice to achieve that.”

Peter: “Volunteering with St Clare is good fun, you’re making a difference, and doing something positive for others. The reward is really in giving something back.”

– Julie & Peter


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