For five years, Kathy and Vanessa have been managing our Plymouth Armada charity shop together alongside a hardworking and loyal team of volunteers whom they recognise for going above and beyond in support of the charity.

To celebrate Kathy’s fifth DAA anniversary, the pair, along with their volunteers, dressed up and went out together after work for a celebratory meal in Plymouth. Kathy said:

For special occasions and big birthdays we all get together for a team trip, or a meal to have fun as a team.

Vanessa added, ‘Ours is a safe space where our volunteers can approach us about anything, whether that’s help at work, or for supportFun times with the Plymouth Armada team with anything else they might need.’  

Get-togethers and team building days have fostered a loyal and close-knit team spirit at Armada, providing a space for skills to flourish and experience to expand.

‘The volunteers enjoyed it so much the first time we tried it that we just kept doing it and we really enjoy it too,’ said Vanessa. ‘We see everything through their eyes when we are out and about, giving us a whole new experience. Some of our volunteers may never been to a zoo before, for example, or may struggle to eat out due to lacking the confidence to order, so it’s an honour that we get to support them with this, and they get to experience new things too.’

Brendon, who has been volunteering for DAA in Plymouth for five years said,

It is an amazing experience, working with incredible people like Kathy and Vanessa who have helped me to develop my confidence in so many ways.

Jo has been volunteering for DAA for seven years, beginning in our Heavitree shop before relocating from Exeter to Saltash from where she joined our Plymouth store as a volunteer. Jo said, ‘The team here has a real breadth of knowledge. We all share knowledge about our areas of interest.’

Kathy and Vanessa are always conscious of their volunteers’ health and wellbeing, making sure that they are fit and well for work and take regular breaks too. Dan is volunteering at the Armada shop to develop his skills and confidence so he can find a role in paid employment. He said: ‘Vanessa and Kathy know us better than we know ourselves. They always know if something is wrong, and they know exactly what each of us are interested in and enjoy doing.’

‘We all bounce off each other and keep each other happy,’ Kathy says. ‘It maintains a great work ethic across all staff and volunteers.’ 
Lisa, who has been at the Plymouth shop for six years now, worked with Kathy and Vanessa at a kiosk-style service during covid, which was of course a tough time, but it helped her to develop confidence and skills especially when working under difficult conditions. Lisa is particularly skilled when working on the till, keeping a watchful eye over the store and engaging customers. 'Vanessa and Kathy are just wonderful to work with,’ she says.  

Vanessa has recently been shortlisted for a Charity Retail Association award for Retail Employee of The Year! Charity Retail Awards 2024 shortlist - Charity Retail Association.

Interested in joining our incredible team of volunteers? We’d love to hear from you!

Volunteer spotlight

We hear from some of the amazing volunteers who donate their time in support of the charity.

Christine (Chris)

Chris joined Barnstaple Hub as a volunteer in September 2023, bringing a wealth of experience in Customer Service and general shop tasks. Chris is retired and also volunteers with Cats Protection as Treasurer. ‘Treasurer is a job I can do alone at home, in my office. Although I do meet other people, it isn’t as social as volunteering here’, she said.

‘I visited the Barnstaple shop to have a look around at the stock and immediately I really loved the atmosphere. I got chatting to Beth at the till and then I went home and registered my interest to become a volunteer online straight away! This hub especially is a very welcoming place, it’s a new way forward of how the shops look.'

Chris volunteers at the Barnstaple Hub forfour hours a week where she has also fostered a friendship with fellow volunteer, Rosemarie.

Rosemarie

Rosemarie’s motivation to begin volunteering in July 2023 were likewise social. ‘I am on my own and I have hobbies, but they often involve being at home, I felt like I needed to be out more so volunteering here has changed my life. The people are lovely, and it is like a new adventure!’.  

Rosemarie volunteers in Barnstaple two mornings a week, but said ‘I would come and work every day if I could – I feel as though I have made friendships with everyone here. It doesn’t matter what day you come in, it is always fun and there’s always someone to talk to.’  
Rosemarie is keen to encourage others to volunteer for DAA. ‘If I knew someone who wanted to volunteer, I would tell them that the charity is so vital in the area and when you think about what they do for us, we should do something for them by volunteering our time.’ 

Ali

Ali started her journey five years ago in our original Barnstaple charity shop before moving to the new Barnstaple Community Hub. During this time, Ali has completed two NVQ’s through Charity: Retail and Customer Service.  

‘I studied over the course of a few months for the Customer Service NVQ and during that time my dad passed away. My colleagues were incredibly supportive during this tough time. I love everything about volunteering for DAAT, it gives me a sense of community and family.’  

Ali’s fiancé, Clive, was assisted by our crew when he was just 14 years old and he now volunteers for DAAT too. Ali said, ‘We both wanted to give back to the charity for what they did for Clive, by volunteering our time.’ 
Ali and Clive have even recruited Ali’s mum who also volunteers in Barnstaple! 

Liam

Aviation enthusiast, Liam, began volunteering with DAA in November 2022. ‘I joined DAA because I like helicopters and the charity does outstanding work for everyone it helps. I like being a part of that.’  Liam would like to encourage anyone looking for volunteering opportunities that also likes aviation and/or helicopters to consider volunteering their time with DAA. 

Have these stories inspired your interest? If you think you could help find even a couple of hours a week to support our lifesaving work them we'd love to hear from you!

Find out more about volunteering today!