Louth’s Oxfam charity shop, which has stood proudly in the Market Place for decades, is under threat after reaching ‘crisis levels’ due to a chronic shortage of volunteers.
The Oxfam shop’s interim manager, Alison Moore, told the Leader that the shop ended up having to close on two Saturdays last month - in addition to the occasional weekday afternoon - due to having insufficient staff numbers to run it.
Much to the dismay of the small band of dedicated volunteers, the shop was also unable to open during Louth’s Christmas Market on Sunday November 27 , which Alison said would have been a “ profitable day” for the shop.
Alison said: “We would expect to take in around £500 on a Saturday, so it’s a real blow to have to stay closed.
“We have been working with the very minimum of staff, and we can’t open the shop with less than two people. We can’t put our volunteers at risk.
“Even with just two people, there would be nobody else preparing donations or sorting items. Those two volunteers would just be covering the tills.”
Alison continued: “Our volunteers get quite upset if we have to close the shop, but we can’t open if we haven’t got enough people to cover.
“All of our current volunteers are doing their best, and sometimes having to work more often than they initially wanted to.”
Mark Humphries, who has volunteered at the Louth Oxfam shop for the last three years, said that the shop was “desperately short” of volunteers.
He said: “The shop being under threat is not very good. There are nine charity shops in the town and only so many volunteers to go around.”
Alison concluded that it would be a “terrible shame” to let down the dedicated volunteers already on the roster, and has appealed for more volunteers to come forward - even if it is only to offer a spare hour or two each week.
She added that the volunteering experience can make a significant impact on your CV, and can also contribute towards Duke of Edinburgh awards for students.
Alison said: “Even just one hour of a volunteer’s time can generate £50 or £100 of sales - it can make a huge amount of difference.
“The team here are lovely and very welcoming. They’re ever so good but they’re just doing more than they can at the moment.”
Whether you are a student (aged 14 or over), retired, unemployed, or simply have an hour or two to spare during the week, go along to the shop at 19 Market Place, Louth, or call 01507 601616 if you wish to volunteer.