Rana Bolena loves to shop – a little too much, according to her husband.

Whenever she comes home with something new for her wardrobe, her husband gives her a friendly telling off about her shopping habit.

"I do love to shop. It's a woman thing!" Rana laughs.

As one of 1400 Kiwis who volunteer in Red Cross Shops, Rana has a lot of opportunity to find great bargains. She volunteers twice a week in the Kilbirnie store, just a short walk from her Wellington home.

Volunteering in the shop is not only a way for Rana to indulge her love of shopping. It's also helping her improve her English, add to her CV and play a greater role in her new home.

It's been almost four years since Rana and her family arrived in New Zealand. The family's home in Iraq was no longer safe and the couple were forced to flee with their two young boys, leaving everything behind, she says.

"I left my job, my house, everything. We left everything because of my children. But it's safe for them here."

Thanks to a little help from New Zealand Red Cross' resettlement team, the family is now settled into their Kiwi life, but some things are still very different. In Iraq, Rana worked as a manager with the Ministry of Electricity. She had worked with the Ministry for 18 years, but had to start her career from scratch in New Zealand.

Volunteering with Red Cross has given her a platform to use her professional skills while also building new ones. She has now been a volunteer for about nine months, and has just started working towards her Certificate in Retail through the Kilbirnie Red Cross Shop. So far, volunteering has been a great experience.

"I just love everything about working in the shop," she says.

Kilbirnie shop coordinator Tamsin Matthews, Rana's manager, loves having Rana on the team.

"She's a real people person. She's so lovely towards customers and she's a fabulous volunteer."

Rana is now hoping her experience in the store, coupled with the retail qualification she is working towards, will help her secure a job.

Apply to volunteer

Apply to volunteer in one of our Red Cross shops around the country.