It’s a busy morning in Red Cross’ Manchester Street shop. Customers are trying on outfits, volunteers are sorting donations and, in the middle of it all, keeping a close eye on the operation, is shop coordinator Abbey Borland.

The Red Cross role is a dream job for Abbey. The Christchurch mum started volunteering in her local Rangiora Red Cross Shop four years ago, attracted by her love of second hand shopping. Now, she works fulltime as coordinator of one Red Cross’ biggest shops, the Manchester Street superstore.

“I’ve always been an op shopper, since I was a teenager,” she says. “Working in the shop is quite exciting - you never know what’s going to come out of the bag next. It’s amazing what people give away.”

After studying, Abbey spent time raising her young children. When she decided to return to the workforce, she found she needed more experience to put on her CV.

Volunteering in the shop was not only a way to gain real-world work experience, it also helped her develop valuable skills.

“I was quite a quiet, timid person. Working for Red Cross really gave me the confidence to put myself out there.

“I don’t think people nowadays realise what skills they can gain by volunteering. It’s more than just going somewhere and giving your time - you make friends and meet new people, who you would never otherwise meet.”

As well as overseeing the Manchester Street shop, Abbey is now completing a retail qualification through Service IQ, offered free through Red Cross Shops for staff and volunteers.

Want to volunteer too?

Abbey is now looking for more volunteers to join her and the rest of the Manchester Street team. If you’re keen to gain new skills, meet new people and help support people in need, volunteer at your local Red Cross Shop.

Doing a Spring clear-out?

With summer on its way, its the perfect opportunity to clear out your wardrobe and do some good in the process. Bring in clothes and small household goods to your local Red Cross shop. Find out where our shops are located and what they accept.