Vanessa Turner from Whitstable tells us how her role as a volunteer helped her secure the position as the manager of Pilgrims Hospices Whitstable retail shop.
“There’s nothing I don’t enjoy about my role in Pilgrim’s retail.
“I love the people I meet every day, and the staff and volunteers create such a positive atmosphere, we make a great team.”
She told us: “I’ve enjoyed a career in hairdressing, owned a property development company and later spent time as a publican in Wiltshire.
“I returned to my hometown of Whitstable with my daughter to be closer to family who needed our support. While we settled here as part of the family support network, I decided that dedicating some time to volunteer for a local charity, would be very positive for me too.
Being a Pilgrims volunteer is an amazing experience, the atmosphere was very special, everyone gets along and really appreciates the fact that they are doing something very positive for a very special charity.
“I applied to volunteer at the Pilgrims shop in Whitstable, it’s such a good way to make new friends and keep in touch with what’s happening locally. As well as helping others, volunteering was great for my wellbeing too.
“I started by helping for one morning each week initially, the manager Lorraine was managing two shops in Westgate and Whitstable and needed her volunteer workforce to help with the smooth running of the shops. I really enjoyed being part of the team and definitely wanted to offer my time to charity rather than work for a local supermarket or business.”
Vanessa found great satisfaction in her role as a volunteer, helping people to find and make a purchase, match an outfit or find a gift, she quickly progressed to four and five days each week and became a supervisor at the weekends; and eventually joined the Pilgrims team as a paid manager at the general retail shop.
She added: “Being a Pilgrims volunteer is an amazing experience, the atmosphere was very special, everyone gets along and really appreciates the fact that they are doing something very positive for a very special charity.
“Even though I don’t have a background in retail, I absolutely love sharing the shopping experiences with our customers. They come back time after time, to support Pilgrims, and most love to chat in a friendly environment and really enjoy finding something special or just a little different from the high street experience. People enjoy knowing that their purchases (and donations) are truly making a difference for the people who need our help the most.”
Our volunteer workforce is absolutely invaluable, we couldn’t run our shops without them.
Mandy Hawkett, Retail Area Manager at Pilgrims Hospices
Vanessa’s daughter also volunteers at the Whitstable shop, and finds the time she spends helping customers, really boosts her confidence and helps her to achieve new skills.
Mandy Hawkett, Pilgrims Retail Area Manager said: “The family are a brilliant addition to the Pilgrims retail team in Whitstable.
“Our volunteer workforce is absolutely invaluable, we couldn’t run our shops without them. Volunteers Week takes place 1-7 June every year. It’s our chance to recognise the fantastic contribution they make. Our volunteers truly make a difference to the lives of people across east Kent who are living with incurable illness. Thank you!”
Inspired to become a Pilgrims’ volunteer?
Visit pilgrimshospices.org/volunteer and look out for more stories and information throughout Volunteers’ Week!