Robert started volunteering with us many years ago on school work experience. We are very proud of Robert as he has just been accepted to Oxford University. He tells us why he has stayed with us for the last 4 years.
It was January of 2011, and I needed to get three months of volunteering under my belt to complete my Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze award. Being only 14, I was slightly apprehensive and did not know what to expect when I walked into the Age Scotland shop in Stockbridge to ask manager Amanda Lawrie if I could do an hour a week’s volunteering. To be frank, I was not looking forward to the experience, as I would be spending this time in an unfamiliar setting, with people I’d never met, probably doing rather dull and menial tasks; I dare say, this is probably why people my age might be put off volunteering.
My worries were very quickly put to rest, however, as I was taken under the wing of Amanda and assistant manager Lydia Wishart. They both took it upon themselves to make me feel at home in the shop setting, to show me the ropes in everything from labelling correctly to using the till, as well as answering any questions I might have had. As a result, I very quickly settled in, and I became a regular sight on a Thursday afternoon in the shop.
After turning 16, I was trained in using the till and was allowed to start serving clients, and I have been gradually entrusted with carrying out tasks which require more and more responsibility, such as answering the phone, and ensuring Gift Aid donations are filled out and labelled correctly. My post involves being front and centre of the shop, and when at the till, clients rely on me to answer any questions they might have, ranging from whether we have any particular items in stock to where the nearest bus stop is; this is all on top of ringing up items. I enjoy this role enormously, as my colleagues are all wonderfully friendly, I really enjoy serving clients, and I get to meet all sorts of new people on the way – all on top of doing valuable work for a deserving cause.
Over my three years of volunteering in this shop, I feel I have benefitted enormously from the experience of working in a shop environment, and carrying out all of the responsibilities which come with such a role. My volunteering has effectively been a very long stint of work experience, and I would encourage anyone who is still at school from the age of 14 upwards to do something similar – not only for the reason that I could get a very favourable reference from the shop for my CV when applying for jobs in the future, but simply because volunteering is a fantastic way of meeting new people, learning important skills for the future, and fundamentally helping a worthwhile cause.
Shop Manager, Amanda says “I’m very proud to have Volunteers like Robert, He is a key part of the team, and supports and helps coach new volunteers on the till and customer service. I’m extra proud of Robert as all through his studies he has never let us down with volunteering he always turns up and is very aware of the difference each pound makes to Age Scotland.”
If you want to better yourself and learn valuable new skills, as well as make a contribution to the community at large, volunteering with Age Scotland might be for you!
We all wish Robert all the best at Oxford and hope that he keeps in touch!