What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
53 views
53 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
91 views
91 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
128 views
128 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
109 views
109 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
136 views
136 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
201 views
201 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
138 views
138 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
282 views
282 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
226 views
226 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
227 views
227 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
259 views
259 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems
News
8 views
8 views

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems

Jessica Hubbard - October 20, 2018
218 Views

Where Grandad’s flat cap meets Stella McCartney sportswear

The Western Road Oxfam: charity shops can be treasure troves. Photo: OxfamBrighton

The Western Road Oxfam: charity shops can be treasure troves. Photo: OxfamBrighton

They have their own smell which some might describe as musty. The rails are stuffed with stained second hand cardigans and pre-war nighties donated by the relatives of a belated Grandma. A quick glance at the dusty shelves will reveal incomplete jigsaws and seen-better-days shoes. And in the cardboard box in the corner, bearing the tatty handwritten sign ‘all at 50p’, you’ll find battered books on subjects ranging from how to keep chickens through to knitting. And then of course there will be that cute, albeit with-an-eye-missing teddy bear complete with an unidentifiable stain on his front looking for a loving home. All of these things have come to be together in one dark, gloomy, drab place which, if you dare to cross the threshold, will be sold to you by the toothless, tea drinking, dribbling section of our population – the elderly. Where am I thinking of? The charity shop of course, where else?

Or at least this is how I pictured a charity shop to be. So imagine my horror when, at the all-so-mature-age of 16, confronted with a Wednesday afternoon course on the Voluntary Sector in an attempt to avoid the traditional Wednesday afternoon College sports, I found myself facing 20 hours of voluntary work. The course wasn’t something I’d wanted to do: It was just the only alternative to running around a field after a ball in the mud. I wasn’t opposed to voluntary work, as long as that voluntary work didn’t mean working in a charity shop. But, my college being stuck in a small, transport-less town, meant my first choice of voluntary work – at the Dog’s Home near Shrewsbury, wasn’t possible. I eventually bowed under pressure and agreed to spend my Wednesday afternoons in Oxfam. Well, it was either that or sign up for the College rugby team.

‘My voluntary work provided me with a completely different outlook on both charity shops and on life itself’

And so it was here, in the sorting room of Oxfam’s Ludlow branch that my Oxfam affair began. My fellow volunteers were, as I’d imagined, old. And yes, they drank tea. But they didn’t dribble, and from as far as I could see, they weren’t toothless either. It pained me to admit it but they seemed, on the face of it, not only quite normal, but also quite nice. Nevertheless I was unenthusiastic when asked to sort through bags of donated clothes – couldn’t I do books? At least then I wouldn’t run the risk of encountering last century’s dinner plastered on the front of something. But no, clothes it was. I never knew there was so much to sorting clothes in a charity shop – reject it if there’s a button missing; if a zip doesn’t work; if it’s got a hole in or if it just looks tired. Basically, if you wouldn’t buy it don’t expect others to. But what happened to the rails being stuffed with moth-eaten clothes? Reject it if it looks tired? If there’s a button missing? But surely that’s why people donate clothes to charity shops. Who in their right mind is going to donate something perfectly wearable?! But people do. It had never dawned on me that people’s dress sizes change; that their tastes change or that sometimes, heaven forbid, they just have too many clothes for their wardrobe. After my afternoon of sorting and pricing I was allowed to leave and, although I would never have admitted this at the time, I was looking forward to going back the following week.

The time went by quickly as I learnt how to sort and price bric-a-brac, music, shoes and even books. And with every new task my negative views on charity shops were slowly erased. Every donated bag was an unknown quantity, every time we discovered a newspaper-wrapped donation it was like Christmas – not knowing what was inside brought with it a certain excitement. And we would laugh about how someone could ever have owned such a bright floral tablecloth, or such a freaky-looking mask wall hanging. Why did someone no longer want that Stella McCartney Adidas running top or that Body Shop bath set? In short, we had fun. And when my 20 hours of voluntary work were completed I was engulfed by a sadness which compelled me to stay. Not only did I choose to stay; I also chose to work more often. My view of charity shops had been, I realised, somewhat stereotypical, based on goodness only knows what – I don’t think I’d ever even stepped inside one until I began volunteering in one. I quickly learnt that charity shops aren’t a meeting point for Grandad’s flat cap and the neighbour’s dog-chewed slippers, but are actually a place where antique candle holders meet modern dinner sets; where bestsellers meet Faith shoes and where not everyone is old and senile.

‘Sometimes, we wish that more young, enthusiastic people would volunteer.’

You can therefore imagine my distress when, after 2 years of volunteering with Oxfam, I was forced to leave because I was going to university. As soon as freshers’ week ended I was on the phone to directory inquiries asking where all the Oxfam shops in Brighton and Hove were. I ended up on Blatchington Road in Hove. My first trip into the back room to meet the manager and pick up a volunteering form meant that I stumbled across the other volunteers and immediately I could tell it was a completely different type of Oxfam. Firstly they were sitting around the sorting table eating fish and chips; secondly the place resembled something I would later realise was actually extremely well organised chaos and lastly, they had an average age veering more towards 30 than 80. If I had enjoyed Oxfam in Ludlow then I was going to love Oxfam in Hove.

As the weeks turned to months I found myself not only defending my voluntary work, which came under criticism from fellow students who, for the life of them, could not understand why I chose to spend my free time working in a musty-smelling, dark, gloomy shop surrounded by dotty, old, social rejects (oh, how they reminded me of my former charity-shop-virgin self) but also my voluntary work provided me with a much needed escape from student life. It also provided me with some very good friends and a completely different outlook on both charity shops and, because both the customers and volunteers came from such a variety of social backgrounds, on life itself.

After having spent over 2 years devoting practically every spare second to that shop, after having lived and breathed the far-from-musty Oxfam air, and having filled my flat to capacity with an eclectic mix of Oxfam-donated items (an occupational hazard), I have come to the conclusion that charity shops are a magnet for the odd, the bizarre and the down right weird. And that doesn’t just describe the donations but the volunteers themselves. Oxfam policy states that at least 2 people must be present for the shop to open. Oxfam policy also states that volunteering should be open to all. And indeed it is. I mean, why else would they have accepted me? It’s so open to all that they’ll even pay for your bus ticket to get you to and from the shop. But the population of Hove is somewhat different to the population of Ludlow – a difference that is reflected in the volunteers. And, meaning no offence, some of them you just wouldn’t find in a paid position. The number of times I have muttered under my breath ‘we are a charity shop, not a charity case’, when would-be volunteers stagger and sway through the door, is shameful. But really, it’s all very well having 2 people for the shop to be able to open, but to avoid cashing up disasters at the end of the day, to avoid the dwindling down of the stock due to shop lifters rather than customers (I know, the lowest of the low – who steals from a charity shop?) and to avoid the general collapse of the place throughout the day is a very different matter. One, at least, of those two volunteers needs to be, well, normal.

There is more to working in a charity shop than drinking tea – there are donations to be moved, sorted, priced and put out. There is banking to be done, themed window displays to be planned, rails need to be stocked up, the till needs to be operated, there’s a credit card machine, refunds, cash donations and all manner of other paperwork not to mention dealing with the customers – all of which is done by volunteers and well, lets be honest, you’ve got to be pretty clued up, as well as physically able, to ensure the place doesn’t fall apart.

That’s why, sometimes, we just wish that instead of the ‘I can only work afternoons because I’m on sleeping pills’ and the ‘where do I sleep at night?’ wannabe helpers, that more young, enthusiastic people would step forward to volunteer.

For information on how you get involved in volunteering, check out Project V here

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
53 views
53 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
91 views
91 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
128 views
128 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
109 views
109 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
136 views
136 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
201 views
201 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
138 views
138 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
282 views
282 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
226 views
226 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
227 views
227 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
259 views
259 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems
News
8 views
8 views

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems

Jessica Hubbard - October 20, 2018
BCU Black Studies Degree Talk
Campus News
10 views
10 views

BCU Black Studies Degree Talk

Matthew Nicholls - October 20, 2018
Bliss Signal Album Review
Music
42 views
42 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground
Arts
60 views
Arts
60 views

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground

Hal Keelin - October 18, 2018

Upon my transfer to Sussex University, I found Robert Cowen’s Common Ground a particularly comforting read. After nearly a year out from academic study, I was finally…

What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
53 views
Arts
53 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018

  All you need to know about autumn at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts If you have not seen the ACCA’s new autumn programme, you…

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
91 views
Arts
91 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018

In celebration of Black History Month, Sussex Student Union organised a number of interesting talks and events across October. One of these exciting opportunities was a chance…

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA
Film & Theatre
75 views
Film & Theatre
75 views

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA

Anonymous - October 10, 2018

At the outset, Mr Messier’s FIELD at once invoked The Matrix and Daedalus’ Boiler Room set.  The basic concept of this mixed media performance relies on transducer…

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development
Arts
114 views
Arts
114 views

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development

Kate Dennett - October 10, 2018

To commemorate to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Day, I found it increasingly difficult to draw attention to just one book of relevance in recognition of this…

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective
Campus News
102 views
Campus News
102 views

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective

Chris Ahjem - October 9, 2018

Annually, the University of Sussex welcomes thousands of new students to our Falmer campus and every year the Student’s Union and Brighton based clubs and businesses increase…

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known
News
147 views
News
147 views

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known

Chris Ahjem - October 6, 2018

To celebrate National Badger Day here are 10 fun facts about our animal kingdom namesake Badgers can run up to 16-19 miles per hour which is the…

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
128 views
Arts
128 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018

This coming week marks the celebration of Libraries Week, an event solely dedicated to praising the work of libraries across the UK. This annual event is taking…

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
109 views
Interview
109 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018

The young star is often a tricky title to navigate. There are the big names, who explode into the world with noise, bright light, a big record…

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry
Lifestyle
140 views
Lifestyle
140 views

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry

Rachel Badham - October 3, 2018

Fenty Beauty, launched in September last year, is a makeup line created by global superstar Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known as Rihanna. It’s not uncommon for celebrity…

Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
136 views
Lifestyle
136 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018

Once an art form disregarded by many, 2018 bears witness to the continuous rise of drag as a legitimate, celebrated art. Spearheaded by RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag…

In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
201 views
Arts
201 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Alannah Myles, the 1991 Grammy winner for best female rock vocal performance for her outstanding vocal abilities for the…

Brighton Needs You!
News
138 views
News
138 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018

Brighton is a vibrant and thriving city that many students at Sussex are lucky enough to call home. But there are many in the area in need…

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
282 views
Arts
282 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
205 views
Film & Theatre
205 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Olek Młyński - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
226 views
Sports
226 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
227 views
Arts
227 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
259 views
Arts
259 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1324 views1
Campus News
1324 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems
News
8 views
News
8 views

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems

Jessica Hubbard - October 20, 2018

The new Lewes Road branch of ALDI has opened to the public. Its first customers received free fruit and vegetables and the store has proved popular since.…

BCU Black Studies Degree Talk
Campus News
10 views
Campus News
10 views

BCU Black Studies Degree Talk

Matthew Nicholls - October 20, 2018

Students are due to give a talk about the UK’s first black studies degree as part of Sussex University’s Black History Month events. The free event, which…

Go See a String Quartet: Globally Renowned Artists Play for Free on Campus
Culture
108 views
Culture
108 views

Go See a String Quartet: Globally Renowned Artists Play for Free on Campus

Ketan Jha - October 19, 2018

Classical music can be obtuse. It is easy, especially at free concerts occupied largely by octogenarians, to get lost between movements and melodies. This is especially true…

Bliss Signal Album Review
Music
42 views
Music
42 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018

  CD/Vinyl/Download At first glance, the worlds of black metal and electronic dance music do not seem to have very much in common. The former is characterised…

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex
Campus News
25 views
Campus News
25 views

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex

Jessica Hubbard - October 18, 2018

A new Student Energy Project has started at Sussex. The project is run in collaboration with The Student Energy Project, the University Sustainability team and Sussex Students’…

Name Changes Made Easier for Students
Campus News
30 views
Campus News
30 views

Name Changes Made Easier for Students

Matthew Nicholls - October 18, 2018

The University of Sussex will now accept unenrolled deed polls as proof of name change to those who wish, granting more freedom and anonymity to those in…

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors
News
46 views
News
46 views

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

The court of appeal has quashed sentences handed to 3 fracking protestors calling them "manifestly excessive". Jail sentences of 15- 16 months were given to the three…

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit
News
52 views
News
52 views

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

Veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, gave a talk on campus. Known for his work with the LGBTQ+ community, he spoke about free speech under attack and…

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’
News
33 views
News
33 views

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’

kenyon55 - October 17, 2018

The NUS has expressed its support for a national referendum on the final Brexit deal, also referred to as a ‘People’s Vote’. This came after Labour MPs…

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter
Campus News
35 views
Campus News
35 views

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

An open letter started by Sussex academics has gained over 1,000 signatures. The letter, entitled ‘Open letter from UK academics: The harsh sentencing of anti-fracking campaigners sets…

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes
National News
69 views
National News
69 views

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

Written by Danielle Ball Shocking witness statements have been heard from the fire crew and call handlers involved in the response to the tragedy The Grenfell Tower…

Renting Unaffordable for Young People
National News
51 views
National News
51 views

Renting Unaffordable for Young People

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

South East among the most expensive areas to rent as revealed by BBC research. Research carried out by The BBC has found that renting is unaffordable for…

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns
Music
69 views
Music
69 views

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns

Lara Antoine - October 13, 2018

Photo by Vojta Dvrocek Whether you’ve seen him in Ezra Collective or featuring alongside other breakthrough neo-jazz artists like Mr Jukes. Pianist Joe Armon-Jones is no stranger…

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur
Arts
72 views
Arts
72 views

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur

Olek Młyński - October 11, 2018

The newest film from the notorious Gaspar Noé was so critically acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival that the director himself could not believe it. Climax opens…