Alice began volunteering with Cancer Research Wales in October 2021. In just eight months she went from being so shy she couldn’t speak to anyone, to training new volunteers and supporting new shop managers.
"I couldn’t do anything. I was very shy. I would hide behind a door if a customer came in. I would literally shrivel."
Alice has mental health challenges, memory problems and is autistic. When she was at an extremely low point in her life, she was advised by her counsellor to take up voluntary work to help her meet new people. Alice had difficulty finding a volunteer role until she applied to Cancer Research Wales.
Senior Cluster Store Manager, Richard, embraced the opportunity of volunteer help and worked alongside Alice ensuring training was at a comfortable pace for her.
"On the shop floor Alice had the opportunity to meet and chat with people every day and has grown in confidence. Now she greets people with a huge smile, has become popular with customers and is missed when not here."
In less than a year, Alice has done everything from pricing garments, serving at the till, greeting the public, tidying the shop, wrapping and packing, and encouraging gift aid. She’s got to know Cancer Research Wales so well and the different roles within the shops that she now helps train new volunteers.
Richard is very grateful to have her on board, "Alice has been a key volunteer and her support, alongside other volunteers, has meant that we have been able to open new shops. Alice has helped at all the shop openings and I’m sure she’ll want to be at all the ones to come."
Alice volunteers three to four days a week although says she would work every day if she could. Richard keeps her enthusiasm in check and ensures her rota is manageable. Alice volunteers at Merthyr, Port Talbot and Rhiwbina Cancer Research Wales shops because she enjoys the variety of helping at different shop locations and meeting new people.
"Getting out of the house has been really good. The whole charity has helped my mental health and my depression. It’s just been absolutely fantastic."
Alice has lost close friends to cancer, people who have been a great support to her through difficult times. Because of her own positive experience with Cancer Research Wales, and because she knows that her work supports research that helps to create a better tomorrow for people living with cancer in Wales, she is determined to volunteer for the shops for as long as she can.
"I’ll support Cancer Research Wales until the cows come home."
Learn more about volunteering for Cancer Research Wales below.