Behind the till: meet shop volunteer Gareth

Oxfam’s charity shops play a vital role in the fight against poverty, raising funds to save and change lives all over the world. This is only possible because of the thousands of people around the country who volunteer their time and skills to help.

Here Gareth Marchon, 18, speaks to Deputy Shop Manager Chris Park about volunteering at our Clarkston shop in Glasgow.

How long have you volunteered in the Clarkston shop?

I’ve been volunteering for about four years.  I started when my family moved to the area because I had free time and was doing my Duke of Edinburgh award, then I just carried on after that.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

The other volunteers are really nice, you meet so many different people and you chat to them and it helps your communication skills and you get to know people. I was kind of shy when I started but you learn to talk to people, you learn to talk to customers on the till as well.  It’s helped me with different things: I got work experience at a vets and volunteering in the shop really helped me with this.

Me and my friends started an Oxfam group in school and we raised about £4,000 over the years for Oxfam.  We spent it in the Clarkston store and purchased loads of different Oxfam Unwrapped.  Our first £2000 got clean water for an entire school, and we also got baby goats with the money.  Our Oxfam group in school won a few awards: the Convener’s Award and the Dianna Award.

What’s the most memorable donation you can remember in the shop? 

There’s loads. The most memorable one was really strange: it was like a stuffed ferret scarf. It was really strange and obviously we didn’t sell it. 

Sometimes you see some really weird things but it’s a laugh.

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering?

I’d just say do it.  You don’t have to do much, it can be only a couple of hours a week – you’d probably spend that watching TV anyway!  You learn so many things and you get to work with so many people, it’s great.  You don’t even feel the time when you’re working to be honest because you’re chatting to other volunteers and customers and working away so it just flies by. 

Find out more about volunteering in your local Oxfam shop here: