Volunteer story

Sandra’s Story – Why I enjoy volunteering in our Chidham shop

We’re delighted to introduce you to the lovely Sandra, who volunteers at our Chidham charity shop and also gets up to some amazing crafts to raise vital funds for the Hospice.

Hi Sandra, can you tell us what you get up to at our Chidham shop, and how long you have been volunteering for St Wilfrid’s?

Nearly two years now! I concentrated on working on the till for the first six months, and I noticed that no one was actually working in the craft corner of the shop. I thought, well more things could be made there, but no one else could look after the haberdashery area consistently, because it does take quite a bit of time.

Sewing is something that I have done throughout my life. Because of my height, I’ve always had to take six inches off of everything, even from a child! Otherwise, I’d be tripping over all the time.

The other thing I thought was, well looking at the various bits and pieces that get donated to us, fabrics and such, I could make a lot more out of the fabric.

What sorts of things do you create?

So the fabric I use is only from clothes and such that are donated to the Hospice, I don’t cheat! I don’t sneak off to the haberdasheries, if it’s not there, then I don’t make it. Sometimes there will be a bit of a dry patch when nothing suitable comes in, and during those times I concentrate on sorting everything else out. The items that I use, such as clothes and duvet covers, all have marks on, meaning that they can’t be sold, so this way, I can reuse the good parts of the fabric to reduce waste.

I try and match the fabric to what it would be best made to. I make dog coats and various bags. I have made little things like cushion covers too. As I say, it just depends on the fabric that comes in. It’s got to lend itself to the item, otherwise it won’t work. Sometimes I think I have got a good bit of material, and I take it home and try and cut it up, and the whole thing frays. So, a dog coat that was supposed to be large ends up small! I have regular customers who come in to talk to me, sometimes they need some advice on a project or ask me to patch something up quickly, which I often can do, if I have the correct fabric.

Do you work in other areas of the Chidham shop?

Yes, I still often work on the till because I have always been a people person. I spent 32 years volunteering for St Johns Ambulance, so that taught me really how to engage with people, and taught me a lot about how to be a volunteer. I always have a laugh with the customers when I work on the till!

What inspired you to volunteer for St Wilf’s?

As I said, I had been a volunteer for over 30 years at St Johns, but it was quite a physical role, picking up stretchers and such. I went on to helping cooking food for everyone on duty, and I did that role for quite some time, and then I had to stop as my husband who helped me had an operation, so I lost my lifter!

I went on to volunteering at the Pastoral center in Emsworth, where they do coffee mornings and cakes a things, and that’s when I really got into crafts, as they did craft mornings. All of this had to close at the center due to Covid, so I was twiddling my thumbs a little!

So, as I only live down the road from the Chidham St Wilfrid’s shop, I walked in one day and said to Theresa ‘do you want any volunteers?’ and she said yes please! My role has progressed from there.

I think also because I had a very lovely second mum who died of cancer and was nursed at St Wilfrid’s, and my husband’s brother was nursed not at the Hospice itself, but by the team in his own home. The nurses would pop in regularly to make sure he was ok.

Being purely selfish, I also just needed something to do! It doesn’t do to be sitting around all day with nothing to be doing. Volunteering is something that you choose to do and you enjoy it. It’s not like having a paid job where you have to go as you need an income, even if you don’t want to. You volunteer because you want to, not because you have to.

If, like Sandra, you could make a difference by volunteering at St Wilfrid’s Hospice, we have many exciting opportunities available now.

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