Celebrating Samaritans Shops this #OpShopWeek

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It’s Op Shop Week, and I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Samaritans Shops for the last couple of years. They are fascinating enterprises that provide so much more than a great retail experience; they also operate as microcosms of the community.

There are four Samaritans Shops across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. The shops not only act as an affordable shopping experience for those with limited budgets, but they offer a hub for any person from any walk of life to connect, have a conversation or find support.

Given our wide network of services, Samaritans is able to utilise our shops to assist people in need. Profits from the shops go back into our community programs, and conversely our Emergency Relief centres can offer vouchers to the shops for those people who may be unable to afford clothing or items for their home.

I was visiting our Wallsend shop not long ago and volunteer Maryanne spoke of the support and friendships she’d developed with her fellow volunteers. She also spoke of the conversations she has with customers, how she likes to brighten their day and connect them with help if they need it. I’ve shared some more of her words below, with permission.

I’m a people person, I like to brighten people’s day. I just say hi, how are you going, and it could change somebody’s life. I don’t judge anybody, maybe some people are going through tough times, and you can help them a little bit if they need it by giving them the Samaritans number. It’s good they can have a little faith that there’s help out there.

I’ve been volunteering here since about March 2016. The team that I work with are so fun, customers love coming in, they say ‘here we are, the right shop’ when they come in and they hear us laughing.

I don’t like to stand still, I like to keep busy so I like to keep the shop tidy and this place has such a good energy and a good vibe.

Volunteers like Maryanne are the lifeblood of Samaritans Shops. Their joy and tireless commitment make our shops such a lively, welcoming place for all people.

This Op Shop Week I’d like to thank our shop volunteers as well as the team who manage Samaritans Shops, Pauline, Mandy and Leslie. This week is dedicated to all of you for the dedication and compassion you bring to Samaritans.

In the spirit of Op Shop Week I also encourage readers to consider donating any preloved items from your wardrobe or home. Our shops are always in need of good quality donations, with all profits returning back into our services to support locals in need.

Information on shop locations, drop off points and volunteer opportunities can be found here.