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Aynsley Wilkinson Volunteers For Nelson Tasman Hospice

Aynsley Wilkinson Volunteers at the Bridge Street Hospice Shop

It’s the people that make Aynsley Wilkinson passionate about volunteering. Creating strong relationships with colleagues, the conversations she has with customers and the feeling of giving back to the community. The way she describes it is “like having another family.”

Aynsley's Hospice Shop family
Aynsley’s Hospice Shop Family

“It’s about paying it forward as far as I’m concerned. It’s how I chose to spend my time and my family is very supportive of that.” Being around people and staying connected with the community has become an important self-care tool for Aynsley. She said “My husband was watching me working in the shop one day and he said to me ‘I can see why you do this’. I said ‘Why?’, and he replied Your face lights up. You need to be with people.” Charity stores attract a diverse group of people from all walks of life, so no two days will be the same when you’re volunteering.

“It’s a really nice, positive environment to be in.”

Since Aynsley retired 3-4 years ago, she has managed around 8 hours of volunteering a week between the Bridge Street Hospice Shop and the Hospice Café. “I do fill-ins too because I’m happy to do that. I’m retired, and for me, that’s a way of giving back to my community.” Since it has become a part of her life that she really enjoys.

When asked about why she chose to volunteer with Hospice, Aynsley explained “Like most people in the world, we have had some experience with family members needing extra support through terminal illnesses and needing palliative care. It was something that I knew the government would give some funds to, but also understood our local community would need to support it.’

Volunteers garden party 2023
Celebrating at the Volunteers Garden Party March 2023
“It’s just such a lovely, feel-good thing to do.”

Fitting volunteering into your usual schedule can be a bit of a barrier. Volunteering can feel like a big commitment, but it’s actually very flexible. Aynsley talks about how she fits it into her day-to-day by making herself available for volunteering at the beginning of the week. Weekends are an important time for family and other hobbies “I find it’s great, you know. I just tootle into the café and toodle into the shop. I can go in early, or if I can’t do it I can ring and say that I’m not able to go in that day.”

Volunteering for a charity store can also be a great way to learn new skills or develop existing ones. Retail skills such as merchandising, customer service, and inventory management, are all valuable skills for a variety of career paths. Before volunteering in the shops, Aynsley hadn’t worked in a retail setting. With volunteering, she’s got a new kind of career while being retired and is finding enjoyment in learning new skills.

You can read more about volunteering for work experience here.

“We get the most incredible donations of clothing”

Aynsley reckons 80-90% of her wardrobe is made up of secondhand bargains from all over the world. Being a keen op-shopper, she feels very fortunate to have access to all sorts of wonderful things. Recently, she recalled standing at the till and spotting a lovely woollen jacket “It’s a colour I would have never ever worn, but I couldn’t stop looking at this jacket. So, I just kept on doing my job and then about an hour later, I thought I would try it on. Straight away I said ‘I’m having this’. It’s pure wool, New Zealand made, it is beautiful and I have worn it so many times.”

Volunteers can really see the impact of their work in this space.

Aynsley explains that “sometimes customers and donors share stories about why they chose to support Hospice, and those stories can be very poignant”. She finds value in being able to give extra time to people that need it. It means a lot to be able to share with someone that understands, and volunteers are able to give that extra time.

There are many benefits of shopping and supporting a charity store. Customers can feel empowered knowing that the money they’ve spent will be used to support the care of people in the region, “All the money made from donations given to Hospice Shops, goes back into caring for those that need it in the community. The fact that the money is going to the Hospice in our region is actually really powerful”


If you’d like to join the team at one of our five* Hospice Shops, or just find out if there is a four-hour shift suitable for your schedule, please get in touch! You can give us a call at the Richmond Superstore on 03-543 7017 or register your interest here.


*We currently have shops in Nelson, Richmond, Motueka and Takaka. We are also working on opening a new Stoke shop in June 2023! Visit our Facebook page or see our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news.

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