Volunteers stand socially distanced outside City Hospice Caring for Cardiff charity shop, they are wearing face masks and the shop front has colourful balloons decorating it

The lifeblood of charity shops are its volunteers

Published : 12/10/20 | Categories: Volunteering |

This week (from 12 October) WCVA in partnership with the Charity Retail Association will be sharing stories from charity shop volunteers to attract more people to sign up and help their local shops recover from the pandemic.

Everyone loves a charity shop – what’s not to like? They raise vital funds for their amazing causes, contribute to a healthier planet by saving items from landfill and provide invaluable opportunities to people in the community through volunteering. For the public they are a treasure trove of pre-loved items at bargain prices and a community hub with a friendly smile and fascinating conversation. Everyone is a winner when it comes to charity shops, the benefits are endless.

There are 11,200 charity shops in the UK, 550 of which are situated in Wales. Each has its own unique story, perhaps raising money to save the lives of stray, abandoned and unwanted dogs that need a second chance, or to fund nurses who care for, and support children and their families at the most difficult time in their lives.

Each charity has a story, touching many lives, and the shops are a great source of income to support their activities. Charity shops contributed £330 million to their parent charities last year*, but the pandemic has sadly had an impact on the shops’ ability to raise funds. They are now getting back on their feet and building back better.


The lifeblood of charity shops are its volunteers; they simply couldn’t operate without them. In Wales, there are around 11,400 charity shop volunteers, some of whom are yet to return to shops as a result of the pandemic. This has created a shortfall in pairs of hands to help out, at a time when the shops most need help. Many of the volunteers who work in charity shops have a personal connection with the causes, making the experience even more enriching and fulfilling.

‘I experienced first-hand the wonderful care they give to patients all of which is provided free. I really do feel that when you become a volunteer you are doing something that is so rewarding’ – Volunteer, St. David’s Hospice.

Volunteers cite many reasons for giving their time, including cultivating or developing new skills, improving mental health and making new friends.

‘We are extremely proud of the incredible voluntary community in our sector,’ said Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of the Charity Retail Association. ‘They give their time and energy freely to ensure the success of charity retail. They add vibrancy and personality to the arena, fulfilling tasks such as sorting donations, creating beautiful displays and helping customers find what they are looking for. We strongly encourage people who have an interest in volunteering to give it a go, from our experience, when people try it, they love it.’


The Charity Retail Association represents most of the charity shops in Wales, acting on behalf of members’ interests to Influence and monitor legislation and regulations that affect charity retail, to promote the benefits of charity retail to the environment, the community and to charity and to be the major source of expertise and information on issues affecting charity retail. The Association is actively encouraging people to sign up to help their local shops recover from the pandemic.

This week WCVA in partnership with the Charity Retail Association will be sharing the stories of charity shop volunteers in Wales. Keep an eye on WCVA’s website and social media (where we’ll be using #charityshopvolunteerswales) to hear about a range of different experiences from individuals volunteering in charity shops.


Volunteering during the pandemic should only be done with due care and consideration for the wellbeing of volunteers, staff and customers. You’ll find safeguarding guidance on our Covid-19 guidance and resources page. For information about limitations or considerations for local lockdowns in wales visit: gov.wales/local-lockdown.

*2018/19 figure

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