Mental health benefits of volunteering in charity shops revealed

Emotional support is a major factor for working in a charity shop, according to one in ten people.

The findings have been released to coincide with Volunteers Week (1-7 June) by mental health charity Mind, which also found that more than a quarter (26%) of people said they found charity shops to be “supportive and friendly communities”.

Around 3,000 volunteers work across Mind’s 160 strong network of shops.

Among its charity shop workers is Emma Jordan, who started as a volunteer two decades ago and now manages the charity’s Retford branch.

“When I first started volunteering with Mind, I had very little confidence and struggled in social situations,” she explains.

“I was 21 years old with barely any work experience, so the job centre suggested that I volunteer in a local charity shop. Without a doubt I would not be where I am today if I hadn't volunteered.

“I immediately felt valued and was able to be creative knowing that my input was going to make a real difference. Volunteering not only increased my knowledge and skills but also my confidence and self-worth.

“The thing I loved most about volunteering was undoubtedly the people. The staff and volunteers I worked with inspired, motivated and supported me. And no matter what was going on in our personal lives, the shop would become our sanctuary and our safe space.”

Mind’s retail director Andrew Vale added: “Volunteering is a great way to make new friends, build confidence and it can be a route back into work.

“We rely on volunteers to keep our shops running and to help us raise funds so that we can continue to support everyone experiencing a mental health problem.”

Research published last month by the Centre of Economics and Business Research found that people who donate and give up their time as volunteers are almost twice as likely to feel optimistic about the future and have better mental health than those who do neither.

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