Life has been different for many people for the last year and a half and for many it has been a testing time. But for Tim Champ lockdown has led to a new beginning.
Tim started volunteering at St Margaret’s Hospice Care’s clothes shop in Burnham-on-Sea just after the first lockdown was being relaxed in June 2020. He initially started working on the till but has since taken on the role of the shops eBay seller.
We spoke to Tim about his experience of volunteering at the hospice shop and why he would encourage others to do the same.
“During the first national lockdown I had heard on the news that charities were struggling due to a shortage of volunteers so I thought I would try to help,” Tim said. “We have quite a few charity shops on our High Street in Burnham so before deciding where to volunteer I visited each shop. I could tell St Margaret's had a great atmosphere, it was well-presented and I could see they were taking all the precautions necessary to keep their staff, volunteers and customers safe.
“I started working on the till which I really enjoy, I’ve got to know the locals who come along to see what new things we have and as we are a seaside town, we get a lot of happy holiday makers. Since starting, my confidence has grown, and I am now the shop’s online seller. I find this very fulfilling as I can sell items that are more unique and may not be found by the right person in the shop.
“I research each item before it goes up for sale and I feel like I’m developing an eye for quality! I recently reached a self-set target and to celebrate our shop manager, Vicky, made us all a lovely chocolate cake.”
Around 18 months ago, Tim suffered a stroke which caused him to lose function on the right-hand side of his body. Sadly, he was forced to quit his job in management so he could concentrate on his recovery, but he said volunteering at the hospice shop has given him a new purpose and drive.
“At work I was always a very driven person, I always had energy by the end of the shift, and I worked very hard,” Tim said. “It came out of nowhere. It was a real shock when I had my stroke because I went from being a busy manager to having to learn to walk again. Losing my independence was very hard.
“Since recovering and starting my volunteer role at St Margaret’s my life has changed. I do three shifts a week.. It’s made me feel joyful and has enabled me to meet lots of new people.
“When I walk into the shop it makes me feel really happy, the staff and volunteers are amazing, and I really enjoy working with them. It’s like being part of one big happy family! It’s nice that when I leave every shift, I know that I have done something good for a cause that really matters.
“Working at the shop has also helped me to regain my confidence. I would really encourage anyone who is thinking of volunteering to take the leap. I’ve made some really good friends during my time here who I wouldn’t have met otherwise I have learnt new skills and gained confidence; it’s been amazing.”
We would like to thank Tim for sharing his story.