“Volunteering: the best decision I ever made” To celebrate Love Your Local Hospice week, we’re encouraging you to visit one of our ‘shops with a heart’ – our 16 charity shops across Birmingham. To understand what makes our shops so special, meet Donna, one of our wonderful volunteers. Here, she shares some of her favourite moments from working at our shop in Selly Oak, as well as how volunteering helped change her life… I found out about volunteering when Yas – who is now my current manager – worked at the Birmingham St Mary’s shop in Kings Norton. I happened to be shopping in the store with a friend when Yas overheard the conversation we were having. I was in a really dark place at the time, as I had given up teaching due to a spinal injury, and felt like I had lost a sense of purpose. That’s when Yas thrust a volunteer form into my hand and asked me to join her team. Thankfully, I did and I’ve never looked back since. It really is the best decision I’ve ever made. Having a disability is not a barrier to volunteering at Birmingham St Mary’s – they’ve been absolutely brilliant and it’s helped change my life. I love working here because I’ve made so many brilliant friends. Lots of different people, from all walks of life, walk through our door - you can be helping someone that’s homeless one minute to someone who’s going through a bereavement the next, to laughing with children. It’s just such a brilliant place to work! Since working at Heeley Road, there have been two moments that stand out. One was when a man came in and started talking about his wife. It was just an ordinary day and he was just an ordinary gent but he suddenly started talking to me about his wife’s dementia. My mum has dementia too and before I knew it, we were having a really lovely chat about our experiences. His wife joined in as well and now that off-chance conversation has turned into a friendship. They both come in most Sundays for a chat and I always look forward to seeing them. Another time that really stands out is when two little children came into the shop, absolutely bursting with pride! They had been going to Arabic school and had just learnt to spell their names in the language. They came running into the shop to tell me and it was so wonderful to see their little faces so happy. I even managed to find a sticker to congratulate them – once you’re a teacher, you’re always a teacher! There are so many moments like that and it’s great to know that you’re supporting others when you’re volunteering. That’s what volunteering is all about really – being able to share your own experiences and help other people. If you want to Love Your Local Hospice by volunteering, why not take a look here to see how you can become part of our team.