A shop manager from Cancer Research UK’s Lichfield store has launched an urgent appeal for volunteers after seeing a massive drop in the number of supporters able to help out.

The Cancer Research UK shop in Lichfield

While stock donations increased immediately after lockdown, the number of volunteers returning plummeted by nearly half in some shops.

The situation has prompted a nationwide call for help as the charity battles to claw back millions of pounds in lost income and get life-saving research back on track.

Leigh Taylor, manager at the Lichfield Cancer Research UK shop, said:

“We’re very lucky to have a great team in Lichfield but sadly not all our volunteers have been able to return, largely due to health reasons.

“After the first lockdown eased, many shops were operating with only half the usual number of volunteers.

“The situation has improved a little since then but we’re still 57 per cent down on volunteer numbers. That’s why we’re appealing to anyone who can to give the gift of their time this winter.

“Our shop volunteers are like family to us so it was heart-breaking to close our doors and stay at home during lockdown.

“I can’t stress enough how vital these volunteers are. Without their help, we simply would not be able to fund our outstanding doctors, nurses and scientists.”

Leigh Taylor

The charity is expecting a £160million drop in income across the UK in the year ahead.

Paula Young, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK in the Midlands, said:

“The fight is on to continue our research to save lives and our amazing army of volunteers are right at the heart of our efforts.

“COVID-19 has slowed us down but we will never stop. 

“Thanks to research, two in four people survive their cancer for at least 10 years and our ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their cancer. But the truth is that COVID-19 has hit us hard.

“When shops reopened at the end of June, they rolled up their sleeves to help us get back to business. However, many have not been able to return. So we now need almost 3,500 extra volunteers across the UK to come forward.

“We take their safety extremely seriously and we have strict COVID procedures in place to enable our shops to operate safely – that includes keeping anyone at risk at home, even if it means fewer volunteers in our stores.”

Paula Young

More details about signing up as a shop volunteer are available at cancerresearchuk.org/shopvol.

Paula added:

“There are lots of different jobs people can help with in stores from sorting donated stock, steaming and labelling clothing to serving at the till. No experience is necessary to apply, just motivation and the desire to be part of a team.

“Many volunteers come in just one morning or afternoon a week, or sometimes just help over the busy lunchtime period.

“A few hours can make a huge difference and it can be a great way of adding to your CV. No matter how much time a person can give or what their experience, we are urging people to get in touch.

“Our feedback shows that volunteers tend to smile more, feel less stressed and more useful and generally more positive about having found a new purpose in life.

“There’s a real sense of camaraderie and all pulling together for one reason – to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

Paula Young

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