Alison King has supported the hospice in several roles since she began volunteering at our Buxton shop back in January 2019.
The Buxton resident volunteers her time at the shop on Eagle Parade every week, as well as posting regular photos on Blythe House’s Instagram page. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Alison was a key volunteer in the community, helping to deliver support leaflets across her hometown, and supporting her neighbours who were shielding.
Alison said: ‘I have always volunteered my time in schools since my children were little, but as they’ve got older, my focus shifted and I spoke to my neighbour and fellow volunteer, Judy, to find out more about opportunities at the hospice.
‘It is great to support a local cause and we are such a good team here at the shop – there is great camaraderie. Pre-COVID, we would go out to celebrate birthdays and Christmases together.
‘The shop was shut for many weeks during the lockdown, so I was able to support the hospice by delivering Here to Help leaflets in my local area. These leaflets provided details of how the hospice could help people who were elderly, vulnerable or isolated during the pandemic, including with deliveries of shopping and medical supplies, amongst other things.
‘During the height of the lockdown, with my husband and three children all working and schooling at home, it was great to get out on my daily exercise with a purpose, and I’d be able to stop and have socially-distanced chats with people about Blythe House. I also helped with elderly neighbours including picking up essential items from the shops, as they didn’t leave their homes for many weeks.
‘Marie, the Buxton shop manager, set up a What’s App group for all shop volunteers as a way of keeping us informed, but it quickly became a way of keeping everybody’s spirits up and sharing silly jokes. We all missed being in the shops and that definitely helped.
‘When the shop reopened post-COVID, I was slightly apprehensive about returning to my volunteering role, but I needn’t have been worried. As soon as I came in, I saw that everything is so well organised; the hospice has done everything it can to ensure both volunteers and customers feel as safe as possible in the shop.
‘I work mainly in the cellar, sorting through donations and preparing them for sale. I also sometimes work on the shop floor including organising and sorting things, and serving customers. I love my role looking through items that have been kindly donated, because you honestly never know what you’re going to find! Only the other day, we found a crinoline: an item that goes underneath a dress or skirt to hold it out, and give it a fuller effect. We laughed and said we could all do with wearing one, as it would definitely help us with social distancing! That is the great thing about charity shops, if you go in with a specific item in mind, you should always ask, because nine times out of ten, there will probably be one in the back.
‘The pandemic has given people time and space to think about what’s important to them, and volunteering definitely makes me feel happy. Unfortunately but understandably, several volunteers have decided not to return to their roles following lockdown, for their own personal and health reasons, so we need some new faces here in Buxton and in the other hospice shops.
‘The great thing about volunteering here is that it’s so friendly and flexible – if something doesn’t suit you, you can change to work around your own commitments. More and more people will need support from Blythe House in the future, and it’s so great to be able to play my part in helping local patients and families.’