The North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) is launching an appeal for enthusiastic new volunteers to jump onboard, as it begins to safely reopen some of its 14 charity stores following closure as a result of COVID-19, including its Queen Katherine’s Avenue shop, which will open on Tuesday 7th July.
As the charity prepares to open its Kendal store doors again, as well as its eBay warehouse in Speke, it is seeking volunteers to play an important role in saving lives across the North West.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the charity has kept in touch with its volunteering team to monitor wellbeing and ensure no one feels isolated or left behind.
One of the charity’s volunteers, Ross Hunter, 66, from Burrow, is eager to get back to helping the charity in its nearby Kirkby Lonsdale store: “After working abroad and retirement, it was vital for my wife Sue and me to contribute something useful to our community. Sue was home first, and without me around, found lots of free time. She started volunteering on the shop floor or pressing clothes. When I joined her, I was deemed too scary for customers, and exiled to the book room upstairs.”
“As a schoolmaster son of a publisher, I am a bibliophilic, so the role suits me marvellously. Donations are lugged upstairs to my niche, where I play ‘hunt the carpet’. We sort books from the sellable and the potentially valuable. The team tell me what is wanted on the shop shelves, and customer’s special requests merit a call up to my lofty lair. Fiction, local interest, history and travel all sell well, but books flood in faster. We also give surplus books to school and town libraries, as slashed budgets sadly necessitate this. Please find that signed copy of Hamlet, or Alan Bennet’s handwritten stories in your attic – ours is waiting for your treasures. We’ll make them fly. If you’re keen to help us out further, join us on our treasure hunt. You’ll be making a lifesaving difference.”
Operating seven days a week, 365 days a year, last year NWAA attended 2,466 missions each year, delivering emergency pre-hospital care to the most critically ill and injured patients across the North West. It does not receive Government funding, instead relying on public support and dedicated volunteers, who play an important role in helping the charity raise £9.5m a year to remain operational.
Helen Doward, NWAA’s head of volunteering, praised the volunteering team: “The last few months have been difficult for many charities, with COVID-19 forcing stores to close and suspending volunteering activity. The resilience our volunteers have shown in lockdown has been amazing though, with most of the team raring to get back to their roles once safe to do so. It’s been heart warming to have volunteers continuing to show our charity and each other a great deal of support, despite not being able to volunteer.
“The charity has carefully planned out the phased reopening of our stores, ensuring social distancing is adhered to and installing clear till barriers to keep our teams and customers safe. With some of our existing volunteers unable to return for the time being, we’re looking for new people to join our Kendal store.
“You’ll be supported by a brilliant team and in-house training, and we aim to help people get as much out of volunteering as possible, whether that’s learning new skills or meeting new people. It’s a great way to get involved in your community whilst donating your time to a truly life-saving service.”
The charity has 14 stores across the North West, including Kirkby Lonsdale. You can contact Helen and her team at [email protected], call 0800 587 4570 or visit nwaa.net/fundraising/volunteer for further information.