“I started volunteering because I wanted to get more job skills, and I like helping people. I sort through and display the jewellery, and keep back anything that’s hallmarked for eBay.”
Vince started volunteering in our Bridgwater Shop 3 years ago. Vince has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a condition that affects the connective tissue.
“I was worried about not being able to do stuff because of my disabilities, but it’s been great. If I’m having a hard day, I don’t volunteer that day. Or I can come in and say I need to have a ‘sit down’ day. When my mental health is bad, Emily takes me out to the back and calms me down."
In the shop, nobody’s ever said ‘you can’t do this’. They’ll sometimes ask, ‘would you like help with that?’ and if I say no, they’ll leave me alone. Nobody puts me in a box.
Bridgwater Shop Manager, Emily, shared, “Vince had some concerns as he has a walker at the moment, and sometimes uses an electric wheelchair. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to volunteer if he was using his electric wheelchair. However, we make sure to keep the shop floor really tidy, so that Vince can volunteer, no matter what mode of transport he’s using.
"Speaking about how best to support a volunteer shouldn’t be a negative conversation, it’s about talking to the volunteer and finding where they’re comfortable. It’s important to look at those conversations in a positive light."
Vince told us, “In my role at a previous charity, it was upstairs with no lift and there were often things on the floor. Here, it’s all just one floor, and you don’t trip on anything."
Disability is not a bad word, just a descriptive word. There are a few people with disabilities in our shop and everyone’s included, everyone’s on the same level, nobody’s left out.
Emily told us about Vince’s impact. “We worked out that since Vince took on sorting through the jewellery, we’ve made £600 from jewellery sales on eBay! Vince has been amazing, and everyone loves having Vince in on a Tuesday or Thursday!”
“Volunteering’s been good for my confidence,” Vince shared. “I’m more confident on the computer, and more confident talking to people. I kind of struggle to make friends, but here, everyone’s your friend. It’s kind of like a family - we’re mostly just having fun!”
Thank you Vince for all the time you give.