Monday, 23 November 2015

My Experience Volunteering in a Charity Bookshop


As some of you may know, I volunteer at an Oxfam bookshop every Saturday afternoon. I started about a year and 4 months ago and never thought that I would still be here, volunteering every week. I feel like it's had a massive effect on my confidence and turned me into the sort of person that doesn't freak out when she has to talk to a stranger. Despite it being a pretty regular part of my life, I've never really talked about it on here so I thought I'd write a post about my experience working in a charity shop!

It's a strange thing to go from only really having conversations with people who are fixed in your life, like friends, family and teachers, to having to engage with lots and lots of new people in a relatively short space of time. I started working on the till fairly early and I had to quickly learn how to speak to customers, helping them find a book or just ringing up their purchases. By watching other volunteers I managed to figure out how the whole customer service thing worked and developed my smiley, enthusiastic persona that I could switch on for Saturday afternoons. Don't get me wrong I am a cheerful sort of person anyway, you've probably seen that on this blog, but it's not so easy to do this in front of strangers  Even in the first few weeks when I was terrified of messing up on the till, I would pretend to be this confident version of myself and that seemed to work out pretty well. 

 After a while this persona started to leak into other parts of my life, I would be more confident to speak to shop assistants and I was a lot less socially awkward in other areas too. Then as I begun to get quicker on the till and get used to the regular customers, I realised that I wasn't scared of messing up anymore and that the confidence I was showing was genuine. Never in my life had I felt like I could actually do something that was useful in the real world and I've even been teaching the newer volunteers how to do things in the shop.

Actually working in the shop is pretty cool. So many interesting people come in, with friends and families. The fact that it's a charity shop means that we have all sorts of unusual and rare books that people with unique interests can fall in love with. It's awesome to see people get so excited about books or records and when it's all for charity it just feels a lot better. I love seeing those people who come in every Saturday without fail and noticing different things about customers like the way they act around their children or head to the same section every single week. It's the small little things that make me smile, like hearing a dad read to his children from one of our books, doing the different voices to make them laugh, engaging in conversation with one of the older customers or seeing someone find the perfect gift for a loved one. 

It's made me appreciate people a whole lot more. Despite all that's rubbish in this world (and nowadays it seems like a lot) there are still lovely people who empty their change purses into our appeal box and strike up a conversation with another customer who has read the same book. Sure you get some oddballs and grouchy people who can't seem to understand that it is completely acceptable to charge 5p for a bag! However, the majority are all so nice and make me believe that this human race of ours is actually flipping awesome! 

If you're the sort of person that smiles back at a total stranger, I love and appreciate you. 

Obviously only do this if you feel comfortable, you are not obligated to do anything, especially when it's a creepy man on the street who tells you to smile. If you're having a good day, smile at a waiter at a restaurant, a cashier at a supermarket or a bus driver, it might just make their day a little happier!

Working in a charity shop is so rewarding and it's an amazing way to give back if you have the time spare. I'd highly recommend looking into it or even just visiting your own local charity shops now and again, you'll be surprised at what you can find in there!

What are your favourite charity shops? Have you ever volunteered before? Let me know in the comments!

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo


  1. Wow, what a lovely place to volunteer! There's a charity book shop I absolutely love in Maidstone and whenever I'm in the area I end up leaving with 5-6 ancient books. They're just so pretty! I bet you get to meet so many interesting people for sure. I'm glad you enjoy it!

    Rachael at

  2. It sounds like the bookshop has really changed you as a person! I volunteer at this sports club for disabled children, and I know hat you mean because I definitely feel more confident and like I've made friends for life :D

  3. It sounds like the bookshop has really changed you as a person! I volunteer at this sports club for disabled children, and I know hat you mean because I definitely feel more confident and like I've made friends for life :D


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