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On National Volunteers’ Week, much-loved TV and radio personality, Nicki Chapman, shares her experience of volunteering in her local Mary's Living & Giving for Save the Children shop, and celebrates the mental health benefits of volunteering and the return of community as we ease out of lockdown.

Nicki was one of the first volunteers to return to Save the Children’s Mary’s Living & Giving shops when retail stores reopened in the UK on April 12th. Reflecting on the recent lockdown, she said: 

“Life has been very difficult for so many of us and I think there's a sense of anxiety, mental health issues and really struggling with day-to-day things. If you've been working from home or have been made redundant or furloughed and you just need that little extra oomph, I would seriously consider volunteering.”

The broadcaster began volunteering four years ago when she discovered that her local shop did not have enough staff. Her favourite thing about the shifts are her conversations with regular customers and the rewarding feeling she gets from working in her local community. 

She reflects: “I know that first step could be very difficult especially if you're lacking in confidence, but once you step foot through that door you will be welcomed. You make such wonderful friends when you're a volunteer. Do it tomorrow - you won't regret it!

“Some of these pre-loved items are quite incredible and they look fantastic at a fraction of the price. But the bigger picture is that you're helping children around the world.”

Retail guru Mary Portas – who spearheads the charity’s Mary’s Living & Giving boutique stores - said: 

“Since 2009 we've opened 24 shops, raised over £30 million and survived a global pandemic. None of that would have been possible without our people. People who give their time and energy to make sure our Mary's Living and Giving shops are the best places on the high street. It's been a difficult year for so many of us, you don't need me to tell you that – volunteers like Nicki make me think it'll all be ok. And it will.”

Save the Children’s 24 Mary’s Living & Giving shops are based on the belief that fashion really can save lives and alongside the charity’s other 96 shops, offer a boutique charity shop experience for fashion lovers. 

Since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, Save the Children charity shops have seen sales rise by 1% compared to the same period in 2019. On the opening day for the charity’s shops, profits were up by a staggering 282% compared to the same day in 2019. The charity saw its biggest sales in its Primrose Hill, Teddington, Chiswick, Clapham and Bristol branches. 

All the money raised in Save the Children shops helps the charity continue its vital work for some of the world’s most vulnerable children, many of whom have been hit hardest by the Covid19 pandemic. 

Find out about volunteering opportunities on Save the Children’s website here.

- Ends –

Images and video available here.

For more information please contact f.carr@savethechildren.org.uk 

For more information on Save the Children, visit www.savethechildren.org.uk