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Volunteers’ Week: Meet Kaf

Volunteers' Week is our chance to celebrate the amazing people who give their time and skills to make Save the Children's work possible. So, what does a day in the life of a volunteer look like? Kaf, in Eltham, southeast London, let’s us in.

6.30am: I get to the bus stop near my home in Greenwich and meet my bus stop friends who I always have a chat to. I work as a Teaching Assistant in a primary school. I get in early so I can get ready with paperwork and prepare. I got the job because they saw I volunteered with Save the Children and knew I would give 100%.

8.45am: The kids arrive. I work with kids with special educational needs - I love it and can’t believe I get paid to do it. I am so proud of how much my school raised money for Christmas Jumper Day – my headteacher came to tell me!

12.30pm: I finish at school and say my goodbyes. Then I catch the bus to the shop.

1pm: I arrive and say hello to the volunteers. I start doing whatever needs to be done, tidying the shop floor, helping on the till, processing items, and helping customers. Sometimes we make tasks into a game – write everything that needs doing in a bowl and pick out jobs to do! When someone new perfects a task I tell them to teach another person.

As the Shop Leader the extra things I do are the paperwork and talking to the Retail Manager, Cheryl. And I make sure the till keeps ringing!

When someone new joins the team you have a feeling of what they like to do, but we love people who are all-rounders and can do everything. My way is we do it together.

I fell into volunteering. My neighbour had some new sandals and I asked where they were from, and she said a charity shop. I walked down to the Save the Children shop in Greenwich shop and picked up a few bits. The guy behind the counter asked if I wanted to help, and I never left!

I have volunteered for 15 years, first in Greenwich and now here in Eltham. I realised I had been volunteering from a young age – as a young girl I always liked to cook for street kids in Nigeria where I grew up.

Volunteering is an addiction for me! I am thankful I fell into volunteering in the shop. Giving back saved me. It improved me, made me look outwards rather than inwards.

Our customers come from all different walks of life. I find my confidence has increased chatting to so many people. We always take time to say thank you to people giving donations, coming in the shop to look around, buying items or dropping some coins in the pot. 

I make sure I read up on our current campaigns and work so I can tell volunteers and customers, like our Ukraine appeal.

One thing that inspires me about volunteering for Save the Children is the work is not far off what I do in my job. I just want children to achieve their best. When children are hungry their brains don’t work. And that’s why I am here volunteering.

5pm: We start tidying up before it’s time to close. We work together to lock up, do the takings, health and safety checks and lock the doors. On the way home I watch my shows and think about what I’ll do with the kids at school the next day.  

6pm: I get home and say hello to my son and daughter. They’re 25 and 27 now. My daughter once met Princess Anne years ago in the Greenwich shop when I volunteered there. I like to cook stir fries and African stew and jollof rice for dinner. I might start one of my hobbies - sewing and DIY. I went on courses so I could feel confident using a sewing machine and painting.

Could this be you?! Find out more about volunteering with Save the Children, including our latest opportunities.