Home > 1977 - 2017 > On the Blog: Behind-the-Scenes at the Hospice

2017 marks the 40th year of St Columba’s Hospice

Throughout 2017 the Hospice is marking the 40 years since we opened our doors and welcomed our first patients and families. We have a year-long programme of activities and part of that is shining a light on the various different roles that people have at the Hospice.

Already this year we have heard from people all across the Hospice including our chair of the governors, our patient and family support assistant, a steward, a fundraiser and more. You can read all the other blogs from staff members here.

Today, we publish a blog from Sarah, the Hospice’s charity shops operational manager.

How long have you worked at the Hospice for? 

I’ve worked for the Hospice for about six or seven years but I actually volunteered in the West End shop for five years before that, so I was very familiar with the shops, Gordon and all the other things the shops entail before I started.

Tell us about your role looking after the Hospice’s charity shops 

Hospice's charity shopsMy job is to oversee the Hospice’s charity shops which involves everything from supporting the managers, dealing with landlords and suppliers, ensuring targets are met, interviewing new volunteers, taking high value goods to auction, arranging collections from donors, designing and implementing the gift aid system for the shops, organising the recycling and waste disposal, fixing leaky loos, smashed windows etc. It really is different every day.  There is inevitably a degree of ‘fire fighting’ that goes on as mini disasters crop up, usually on a Monday morning! Fortunately the managers and volunteers greet them with enormous good humour (I’m thinking of you Elizabeth and Ed, locked out of Goldenacre and Morningside respectively, on freezing cold days until the locksmith arrived!).

As the Hospice’s charity shops manager there are also hugely exciting elements to the job, as part of the Hospice’s five year strategy we are looking to open three new shops, and fingers crossed we think we have found the first, so there will be an enormous amount of planning, organising builders, chivying decorators, nagging broadband suppliers, till systems to design, and a new army of volunteers to recruit before we open.

How does your role help patients and families?

I get calls daily from people who have lost friends or family, often in the Hospice and are dealing with all the belongings and things collected over a lifetime. It is a hugely emotional and difficult thing to have to do as it often feels like an intrusion into someone else’s life, but its the last thing they can do for the person they have lost and they want to do it well. We help wherever we can, by having Gordon go and collect items or if they are struggling and want help, we can help pack and sort for them. It’s actually an enormous privilege to be able to help people at such a difficult time, when everything they pick up holds memories for them.

What would surprise people about your role?

Probably the state of my office which often looks like a corner of Steptoe’s Yard! I am a pathologically tidy person but fascinating and unusual things are brought in daily and sit awaiting identification or expert evaluation. Fortunately, after six years I’ve got used to it and it no longer brings me out in hives!

What do you like doing in your own time?

Out of work I watch a lot of rugby and cricket, paint, sew, go to the opera/theatre and cook – a lot!

Click here to read more blogs from our staff.