Karma Francomb has been volunteering in the Whaley Bridge hospice shop since November 2011, five months after she arrived in England from Bhutan. She was born and brought up in Bhutan, a Himalaya Kingdom sandwiched between India and China. After meeting her husband, she moved to England in 2011.

Karma said, “When I arrived in England. I didn’t know anyone except my husband’s family. One day I was walking back home from the gym and spotted an ad in the Whaley Bridge shop ‘Volunteer Wanted.’ I called in and met the shop manger Marie. She gave me a form to fill in and I started a few weeks later. The first two volunteers I met were Betty Moll and Adrienne Hesford. I found lifelong friends in them. Then I met Niamh, Margarete and Jane, and we became a part of Tuesday lunch ladies. We go to a local café after work for a bite to eat and natter. Unfortunately, Covid put an end to our lunches, but we still enjoy working together, and we work great as a team.

‘I like volunteering as it is all part of supporting your local community. I enjoy sorting stock, and steaming clothes, which I used to do quite a lot in my earlier days of volunteering. Now I spend most of my time upstairs in the ladies’ department pricing, attending to the customers, and arranging displays.’

‘I wanted to get a message across to all the young people that volunteering is not just for retired people. There is no age limit for volunteering. I can safely say that after volunteering in the Hospice shop, I went on to get a job in a charity shop as an assistant manager. You can volunteer and learn new skills whilst supporting your local charity.’

‘Interacting with volunteers and customers in the shop has enhanced my language skills. To prove that, I went on to write my first book, Kadrinchay (Thank You) – it is my memoir of my life in Bhutan.’

‘I’d like to add, volunteering is not just for English. I encourage all the Non-Native speakers to volunteer too. There is no better way to learn about the English culture and improve your language skills, than volunteering. Lastly, but not least, I would like to thank Blythe House Hospice for giving me this opportunity to be part of your team and letting me share my experience with you.’

Can you spare 4 hours of your time? We’d be delighted to hear from you! Please email: volunteering@blythehouse.co.uk.