12th Aug, 2020

Call for volunteers as charity shop staff 'overwhelmed' by level of donations

John Carlon 31st Jul, 2020

A CHARITY shop’s staff in Knowle have called for extra help as they restart trading following the pandemic lockdown.

Volunteers at Mind are worried they could become overwhelmed by high levels of donations, with fewer staff members to help out.

The mental health charity says it has seen more than double the usual donations levels on their first week of reopening in June.

Across its stores in England Mind received 14,000 bags of donations in one week; 8,000 more than expected compared to donations this time last year.

In total since reopening, Mind have received 77,000 bags, an increase of 24,000 over last year.

Despite struggles with recruiting volunteers, the charity says the support is valuable as its latest survey found that nearly two thirds of people across the West Midlands have seen their mental health decline due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

While donations have surged, many volunteers are still unable to come back to work as they are shielding, in poor mental or physical health or have caring duties. This has left staff and volunteers working harder than ever to manage not only higher donations, but the new safety measures which require daily deep cleaning and keeping a close eye on customers to enforce social distancing.

A spokeswoman for Mind said: “We need public help to ensure that our shops can survive in this difficult climate. The average bag of stock can be worth up to £30 but are worth nothing if the charity does not have volunteers willing to clean and sort items, create brilliant displays and assist customers.

“Not only can you develop valuable skills, and even obtain an NVQ qualification, but you can give back to your local community. For those struggling with their mental health, Mind shops provide meaningful work in an understanding and inclusive environment.”

Mind’s shop in Solihull has also reopened, putting in plans to quarantine donations for 48 hours, in addition to screens and protective equipment for staff.

Satwant Dulay, Manager at a West Midlands Mind shop, said: “The workload has definitely increased since we have reopened. Normally I have eight or nine volunteers but some of them have health conditions or are scared to come back so at the moment we only have four.

“Sometimes we get volunteers from the Jobcentre, but they’re closed at the moment. Our volunteers are working longer hours and I am working a full seven days to get everything done, so we could definitely use some more volunteers.

“I want to say thank you to our hardworking staff and volunteers, and to all of the generous customers who have brought in donations.”

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