New website matches would-be volunteers with charity shop roles

Melanie May | 9 June 2020 | News

Members of the public interested in volunteering in a charity shop once they re-open this month can now register their interest on a new site launched by The Charity Retail Association and Wil-U.
Anyone interested in volunteering can now go to to sign up through filling up a short form on their details and preferences. Charity retailers seeking volunteer staff can search the database and identify potential volunteers according to their location and specific charity interest.
The platform has been built free of charge by tech company Wil-U.
Charity shops can re-open from 15 June providing they have implemented proper safety measures in regards to Covid-19. Some charities, including Oxfam, Barnardo’s, Cancer Research UK, and British Heart Foundation, have already said that they will start to do so this month.
Allison Swaine-Hughes, Retail Director at the British Heart Foundation said yesterday (8 June) that it would start re-opening shops from 15 June, having made significant changes to how they operate:

“From mid-June, we will reopen a small number of BHF shops, ensuring that all necessary precautions are in place such as social distancing measures, protective equipment for staff and volunteers and the safe collection and processing of donated items. Once these new ways of working are established, we will continue to reopen our 750 nationwide shops and stores over the following weeks.”
“As part of the reopening we have made significant changes to how we operate, both in our shops but also our collection services, online operations and the ways we accept and collect donations. These new initiatives will continue to be reviewed as we go, in order to ensure we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who work, volunteer and shop with us.”

It will be asking donors if possible to ring ahead and let the shop or store know they are coming, and will have new donation points at shop entrances. People will also be able to donate smaller items via a new postal service launching in mid-June. It will also restart its home collection service.
However, the Charity Retail Association is anticipating that there will be a shortage of people to help out when shops start reopening, with many existing volunteers unable to return immediately because of shielding, public transport issues, or not wanting to leave their homes at this point.
It believes its initiative will help shops fill those gaps and give potential volunteers an easy way to express an interest in helping.
CEO of Wil-U, Richard Dorf, commented:

“We are delighted to have been able to help the charity retail sector recruit more volunteers through a simple but effective piece of technology. We are very keen to help establish more connections between charities and the communities in which they are located, and this seems to us to be an excellent way to do it.”

The Charity Retail Association has also partnered with NCS to support the reopening of charity shops by linking charity retailers with young volunteers aged 16-17 to help fill the volunteering gaps across England that have appeared as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The deadline for registering interest in this scheme is 15 June.

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