Saturday, 17 June 2017

CS Update

It's been a while since I did an update of life at the CS.  This is probably because it's just been moving along without too much drama. The manager has started taking another day off each week, which he is entitled to, but just couldn't take for the first six months, due to lack of volunteers. 

The difference recently has been that we have both more volunteers and also that we have had two full time interns, who can be left in charge on his days off, one of which falls when I'm at the shop.  It has been working well for the few weeks it has been happening, but he's away this week for a long weekend, so the system has got disrupted for a couple of weeks.

I have to say, that I'm actually currently rethinking my volunteering.  I do enjoy it, but recently I seem to have been stuck on the till far too much.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy meeting the customers, talking to them and doing till work, but not all the time, both days I'm there, week after week.

I should really say something to the manager about how I feel, but I don't like to cause ill feeling and the interns need to learn about the management of the shop, which they probably don't do so much on the till, so I've just let it go. I am a volunteer at the end of the day and should just go where needed, but it does get a little boring sometimes to do the same thing, especially when no one really even offers to swap for a short period to give you a break from the monotony.

In any case, that is not the main reason I'm reconsidering my position, there are a few.  One is the travel.  Although financially compensated, the hour it takes each way is a drag. I don't like travelling on the train, (although it's better than the Tube because it is direct and air conditioned) because it's quite crowded and there's always a bit of a scrum for a seat, if you get one at all.

I don't know what it is about public transport in London these days, but it seems to bring out the worst in people, me included probably, although I do try to be considerate of anyone needing a seat more than me, to the extent that whilst trying to offer my seat to someone the other day, someone else jumped into it!

To be honest, I now remember why, when I looked for a job after first moving to London to study, I chose to work outside of the centre, so I could drive out to work and not travel in for it. I hated the stress of commuting then and I'm feeling the same now after a year of it.

The second reason is that, as with all charitable businesses I guess, targets for sales and gift aid sales increase year on year, and this puts pressure on staff and volunteers to meet these targets. I'm not suggesting that this shouldn't be the case as not to do so would be going backwards, but I can see that the pressure to perform, does affect the behaviour of those responsible for the targets and sometimes the way they speak to you. That's all I'll say about that. I don't know if this is a countrywide issue, or whether it's a London thing, or just the shop I work in thing, but it seems to seep in every time and kind of chips away at the experience for me, as I try to do my best, whatever the target.

In addition, I'm finding two full days per week, quite a big commitment in the summer months.  LB will be breaking up for the summer holidays soon and I'd rather be at home with her, even if she's out with her friends, at least I know where she is and what she's doing. The allotment too, is a big commitment for me in the summer months and although I'm currently managing to fit work there in, it is to the exclusion of doing other things I want to do.

Anyway, I don't know what, if anything, I'm going to do. I'm still applying for jobs when I see them and I may end up trying to get another volunteering role nearer to home, with less travel involved. I may just carry on as normal or even reduce my hours during the summer months to one day per week. We'll see.


  1. Yes, targets are an issue everywhere. When our new area manager arrived last year (from outside the charity sector) he wanted us to have staff meetings and to have our targets posted up so we all knew what it was. I liked knowing because I'm nosy but no-one else cared one little bit so it stopped. I think he finally realised vols here are motivated by chocolate digestives, not how well the shop does!

    1. Your comment made me laugh. I am partial to a chocolate digestive, but only because they are there. I never eat them at home. It would be better for my waistline if they weren't.

      I was interested in the targets to begin with, as we weren't privy to them with the previous manager, so it was a novelty. It is good to see that we met them, when we do and it is quite motivating to a certain extent.

      I realise targets are necessary, but they have increased quite significantly lately, which causes more pressure all round. It is not something I went into the charity sector for, but I guess it's just a fact of life in todays commercial world and it is for a good cause.

  2. I wonder if they have targets in our thrift stores here? I really wonder if that is the best way to make sure stock moves.

    I would say cut back to one day a week so you can have some time with LB this summer. They grow up so quickly.

    God bless.

    1. I suspect they probably do. We do have other ways of moving on stock, such as sending it to other shops for another chance to sell, if it hasn't sold within a few weeks or selling it online now. Plus the occasional end of season sale, but this is at the discretion of the manager.

  3. As you know, I stepped down as co-manager of a charity shop because I just wasn't happy and felt the pressure mounting. Volunteers need to be looked after & appreciated upmost. I've offered to volunteer in a stunning garden locally. I might have to cycle or walk & it's a long way away but I could count that as getting some exercise. I can just imagine dead heading roses in the beautiful surroundings !
    I hope you get a routine that suits you over the rest of the summer xx

    1. Sounds like a lovely volunteering job. Ideally, I'd like something that I could cycle to.