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Meet the volunteers helping in our Donation Centre

In the past year, the Yorkshire Cancer Research Donation Centre has gone from strength to strength.

Located close to our headquarters in Harrogate, the centre plays a crucial role in processing all the generous donations given to the charity by supporters across Yorkshire. Some donations are sorted and sent to our high street shops, while others are sold online through sites such as eBay and Depop, making sure as many items as possible find a new home.

From sorting through donations, to photographing and listing items online, each volunteer plays an essential role in making sure the Donation Centre runs smoothly and raises vital funds to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer in Yorkshire.

Get to know some of our fantastic volunteers, and, if you’re interested in joining our volunteer team, why not read more about our different roles?

Meet Katie

Katie, 55, began volunteering at the Donation Centre during the pandemic. Her background in marketing meant she could put some of her skills to good use by helping to sell donated items online.

“It felt good to be doing something even when the shops were shut, because we were able to put things online and create some revenue for Yorkshire Cancer Research.”

Katie says that one of the best things about the role is the variety that each day brings.

“It’s a nice feeling when you know that something you’ve listed online has sold,” she says. “Sometimes there are items that you know are a bit rare or niche and it’s a nice feeling knowing they’re going to find a new home.”

Supporting a charity that directly helps people in Yorkshire is a key reason Katie chose to volunteer for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

She explains: “Nearly everyone’s touched by cancer in some way or another, including people in my family, so it felt like a good fit. I also like the fact that the charity is based in Yorkshire and the funds raised go directly towards helping people who live here.”

Meet Freda

Freda began volunteering for the charity after spotting an advert on Facebook during lockdown.

She says: “I came along thinking I would just be here for a few months, and I’ve been here now for quite a long time.”

Freda started volunteering during the pandemic and said that she felt safe in the Donation Centre throughout lockdown.

“We only had so many in the building at one time. The donations that came in were left for 72 hours to ensure that Covid-19 could not be transferred from any items. I really did feel quite safe.”

The 75-year-old enjoys the company that comes with volunteering and likes being able to meet people through the role.

“Some of the things that people donate are quite funny, so every day is different,” she says. “It’s just nice to have a laugh with the rest of the volunteers who come in. They’re all different age groups and it’s just a nice atmosphere. We get on really well together.”

Meet Sandra

Sandra, 58, started volunteering four months ago, after being made redundant from her job. The flexibility of her role at the Donation Centre means she can continue to look after her grandchildren three times a week.

“The quantity of deliveries and stock that we’ve had to deal with has been phenomenal. People have been so generous,” Sandra says. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the volume and the quality of donations. The stock we have is amazing.”  

Sandra volunteers alongside Freda, who has become a mentor to her, and says that they have a great relationship when working together.

“We work very well together, and we have good crack. It’s just nice to get out have adult conversations rather than spend all of my time with the grandchildren, and you’re doing something worthwhile as well.”

Meet John

“I decided to volunteer because I wanted to contribute something. I had some time on my hands and thought this was a great charity,” says John.

John is a volunteer van driver for the charity and makes deliveries to stores and collections from those wishing to donate items.

“I think that the team at the charity do tremendous work. I’ve spent my career in retail and logistics, so I really understand a lot of the difficulties and the challenges they face. The volunteers and employees do a tremendous job with limited resources.”

John’s highlight of volunteering is the team spirit and camaraderie, and the fact that everyone has a shared love of helping.

“One of the things I really love about volunteering with this charity is that we’re not only helping to improve people’s lives, but we’re also encouraging people to recycle”, the 60-year-old adds. “It’s such a positive impact on our society and our environment. I’m delighted with that.”

Meet Edward

“When Covid hit, I’d just come out of university and job opportunities weren’t looking great for students. I had to do something – I couldn’t just be sat at home – so I decided to volunteer for Yorkshire Cancer Research,” explains Edward.

He said: “I think volunteering adds something extra to your CV. It's helped me build teamwork skills and it’s given me an opportunity to mix with people of different ages. It's also taught me values that might be useful in the workplace or in adulthood.”

The 22-year-old volunteers on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. He helps run the charity’s eBay account, where those items that are more likely to sell online are listed.

He says: “It feels exciting when something sells, especially when it sells for more than you think it will. It’s also great when something doesn’t sell the first time it’s listed, but then it sells the second time for a great price.”

Edward’s grandad passed away from cancer, and he explains that: “The cause means a lot to me. When someone you love has been through cancer, it has more meaning, and to help out feels a lot more worthwhile.”

Meet Samantha

Samantha, 55, started volunteering for the charity in March 2021, and says she initially wanted to volunteer to do something meaningful for the community and for Yorkshire.

“Everything you do has meaning,” she said. “Every penny donated to Yorkshire Cancer Research is for Yorkshire and that really meant something to me.”

Samantha has a personal connection to the charity, as her dad passed away from cancer 12 years ago. She feels it was important to be involved in volunteering during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I feel I’ve been part of the machinery that’s kept things going during the pandemic. I think it’s really important that when we come out of this, that charities come out strong.”

Meet Jess

Jess, 17, volunteers at the Donation Centre whenever she’s not busy with school.

“I’m wanting to go into medicine as a career,” Jess says. “We’ve got the BRCA gene in my family, which increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, so a lot of my family members have experience of it. It’s nice to know that you’re doing something to support those who are working to help people like my family.

“Research is really important in terms of how we treat and prevent BRCA-related cancer in the future.”

Jess helps sort through donations and decide whether they would be best sold online or in shops, and then puts things on sites such as eBay and Depop.

She said: “It’s really helped me learn how to interact with others in a team and improve my problem-solving skills.”

“I buy from eBay and Depop myself,” she added “With everything that’s happened during the pandemic, it’s really accessible. Lots of people decided to get rid of their old stuff during lockdown, so these websites are being used a lot more.”

Meet Jan

“I started volunteering for Yorkshire Cancer Research because I wanted to put something back into the community,” says Jan, 62.

After losing her husband in January 2021, Jan began volunteering at Yorkshire Cancer Research to meet other people and support a good cause.

Jan volunteers on Wednesday afternoons and can often be found having a chat with the other volunteers as they sort through donated clothing and bric-a-brac.

She says: “Everybody is touched by cancer at some point in their life, whether it be themselves or a relative, so I think it’s a really important cause.”

► Find out more about volunteering

► Donate your goods to our shops