The research that inspired my action

img-20170127-wa0000It’s charity no.2 of my JRTV100 project, and this one was very close to home.

As a child, I felt helpless when my mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I was at an age, where things weren’t quite clear and school had its claws already into my thoughts and emotions.

My mum is quite simply a warrior! She understood that at the age I was when she received her diagnosis, that I wouldn’t really understand that she might not be around.

Luckily, it was caught early. The research that Cancer Research UK had done, saved my mum’s life. She’s one breast less than she was, but she’s still here.

I’ve done a fair share of volunteering with Cancer Research UK over the past few years, helping as an Event Marshal at numerous events in the South, and very recently, as Volunteer Manager for their Race for Life events. When I was approached by my local shop in Southampton to support the TimeHeroes campaign, I couldn’t say no!

The campaign is calling for young people and those over age of 50 to get involved in their local shop. (Click here to find your closest store) You also have the chance to test the waters, before you look at anything regular.

IMAG2824.jpgBefore, I continue, I know what you think…WOW! John’s tall!

Height aside, when I walked through the doors of the shop, despite feeling nervous, I felt the family feeling. You might be asking why I was nervous, but despite all the volunteering I’ve done previously, I’ve never volunteered in a charity shop.

I was unsure on what to expect, but I instantly realised why people volunteer in shops. One thing I’ve always loved in the sector is the family feeling. Despite being the new guy, I instantly felt like I was there for months! The impact of a conversation can have on your experience is incredible.

Angie, Shop Manager, showed me the ropes for each task I took on, and for me I thank her! Thank you, Angie! To be shown each task gave me an understanding of all the work that goes into running a charity shop and by putting me on the spot, when time came to take on tasks unsupervised.

I love this approach! It’s an approach like one I use, and the essence of being unsupervised, when you feel comfortable, gives you an opportunity to learn.

I won’t lie. I was unsure if I was going to learn much in my 2 weeks in the shop, but I really did!

Did you know Gift Aid means the government contributes 25% extra to the sale of items? I had known about it before, but actually seeing the impact in person meant I wanted to get results.

Yep. I’m such a result driven person, that during my time in the shop, I wanted to make sure I saw my contribution from the sales.

IMAG2837.jpgWhen I was asked to design the layout for the items in the cabinet, I was hesitant. I’m a heavy handed, clumsy person at times, but in anything I do in life, I make sure that I put the fear (even though it was small) to one side and to get things done.


John, the Visual Merchaniser (yes, my new nickname) was amazed when the items put out sold later that day! The cabinet’s items and the clear colour glasses were sold, and I felt good! I still feel great knowing this!

It’s amazing when you see your contribution first hand, and I felt these small actions were part of my thanks to saving my mum’s life.

IMG-20170127-WA0001.jpgEverything I do with the charity is for a reason.

Without the research, my story would be different and maybe I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends in the Cancer community or started to share personal stories, aimed at letting others know they’re not alone.

You’re never on your own and the same goes in Cancer Research UK shops.

I want to say a massive thanks to Angie and the team for welcoming me into the store and thank you as well for allowing my mum to get involved.

Did I forget to tell you that? My last day saw my mum, yes, the woman who once battled Cancer herself, give some of her time to say thanks.

Thank you to Angie and the Shirley team. Thank you, CRUK shops. Thank you, Cancer Research UK.

Thanks to all the work you put in to finding a cure and new treatment, I still have a Supermum!


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