'I can see the amount of clothes that would otherwise end up in a landfill, so I know that this role is essential.'

'I can see the amount of clothes that would otherwise end up in a landfill, so I know that this role is essential.'

The 1-7 June marks Volunteers’ Week. This year we’re celebrating the determination, adaptability and patience of our volunteers as we continue to navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

More than 2000 volunteers are involved in our charity shops, which raise vital funds to fight the housing emergency. They have shown incredible resilience over the past year as our shops have closed and reopened during the various lockdowns.

Madeleine and Helen both started volunteering with us within the last year. Helen recently retired and had free time on her hands, whereas Madeleine had just graduated. We asked them what their respective motivations for volunteering for Shelter were.

Why did you get involved as a volunteer with Shelter?

Helen: I worry about the number of people I see in a week who are homeless and on the street. Everyone deserves a safe home and enough food. I chose Shelter for these reasons as well as because I like clothes and it’s a pleasure to prepare unwanted items to go to a new home.

Madeleine: Shelter’s mission to tackle homelessness is hugely important and, living in London, homelessness is something I’ve become very aware of. Everyone should have a safe environment to call home and I love Shelter’s focus on fighting for that.

Tell us a bit about what you do…

Helen: I use the till, steam and label items and (my favourite), undo the donated bags to see what’s inside. I feel a lot better doing this than if I was sitting at home doing nothing.

Madeleine: I mainly work in the back of the shop – sorting through donations and organising them into stock for the shop, stock to be given to other shops and fabric to be recycled. I absolutely love this as I get to search through bags and find some real gems. I also spend time on window displays, which is especially fun because I get to use some creativity and design.

Why is volunteering in this role important to you?

Helen: I can see the amount of clothes that would otherwise end up in a landfill, so I know that this role is essential. It’s important as a part of my whole life ethos of saving, reusing and recycling as much as possible. For me, it’s a pleasure to work with others who share the same outlook and I can spread the word about the benefits of donating and volunteering.

Madeleine: I’m really passionate about charity shops in general as a form of sustainable shopping; I have become increasingly aware and conscious about my own consumption and the damage the fashion industry does environmentally and socially. Charity shops are a great way to maintain my interest in fashion and clothes whilst shopping second-hand.

Thank you Helen and Madeleine for giving us an insight into what you do and sharing your passion for your roles. And, thank you for volunteering with us!

We wouldn’t be able to do the work we do without volunteers like Helen and Madeleine. If you’re interested in volunteering for Shelter, we’d love to hear from you. We exist to defend the right to a safe home. We’ll never give up because we believe home is everything.

Here's to you! To all our volunteers, thank you for fighting for home. #VolunteersWeek 1-7 June.