Nelson Hospice shop manager Dianne Timbs is needing new volunteers to help keep the Bridge St shop open. Photo: Kate Russell.

Volunteer-less shops

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A severe lack of volunteers at Hospice Shop Nelson has hit “crisis point”, with it having to shut its doors twice in the last fortnight.

Shop manager Dianne Timbs says she is surviving day-by-day on what volunteers she has at the Bridge St premises, but a lack of new recruits is impacting the shop’s ability to operate.

She says it is getting harder to find new volunteers, and it is also more competitive with a number of charity shops in the city.

“[Having to shut the shop] was such a hard decision to make. It breaks my heart,” says Dianne.

“While the volunteers here always do everything with a smile, it is stressful having to ring people and say ‘can you please come in again today?’”.

The shop, which is one of five in the region, is a vital fundraising source for the Nelson Tasman Hospice. It delivers approximately half of Hospice’s funding ‘shortfall’.

Dianne says she’d love to get a new mix of volunteers, including students and corporate workers.

“There are some employers out there who let their staff take a longer hour lunch break to volunteer for a while, and I also have a couple of lovely high school students who help after school,” she says. “It doesn’t matter who you are or how you help – just being a presence on the shop floor makes a difference.”

Volunteer roles in the shops vary – from serving at the counter and displaying merchandise, to behind the scenes roles such as sorting donations, ironing clothes, washing, or driving the Hospice truck to pick up donations.

Hospice volunteer manager Rebecca Colley says that volunteering can provide a great opportunity to learn new skills in retail and customer services.

“Also, the personal rewards you get are so great and the volunteers get such a buzz from being here knowing they are helping Hospice, which has touched so many people in our community.”

Other charity shops in Nelson also say they are struggling to find volunteers, too.

Nelson SPCA Op Shop store manager Stacie Doyle says she has always had trouble finding people to help in her Vangaurd St store, and she does many of the shifts alone just to keep it open.

Other charity shops in the city – including St Vincent De Paul on Vanguard St and ReStore on Quarantine Rd – also say they would love to have more volunteers.

Rebekah Wyatt, Habitat for Humanity ReStore Manager says they could easily have 30-40 more people and still never get to the end of their to-do list. “We are happy for people to just help out whenever they can, even if it is just a one-off,” she says.

If you can volunteer your time for the Nelson Hospice Shop, contact Rebecca on 546 3912 or email reb [email protected]