CRA and NCS launch 'million hours' volunteer scheme

02 Jun 2020 News

Thousands of teenagers will be drafted in to help charity shops as they reopen, according to plans announced at the start of Volunteers' Week.

Volunteers aged 16 and 17 will be recruited through the Million Hours Initiative, which will be managed by the National Citizen Service and Charity Retail Association.

Organisers say that the project will open up opportunities for younger volunteers, at a time when many unpaid roles are restricted to people over 18 years of age, as well as helping charity shops start to recover from the losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Enthusiasm and talent

Mark Gifford, chief executive of the NCS Trust, said: “NCS is perfectly positioned to harness the enthusiasm and talent of socially-conscious teens looking to make a positive impact in their local community.”

Gifford added: “The age barrier of being under 18 should not hold back this huge group of young national citizens who are ready to play a valuable role in our country’s recovery. With many young people missing out on their planned work experience, volunteering will also provide an alternative route to develop essential life skills that can’t be learnt in a classroom environment.”

Robin Osterley, chief executive of the CRA, said: “As charities in England have the green light to open from mid-June, most will be struggling with their urgent need to get this revenue source flowing but with a reduced volunteer workforce and all the essential safety measures that must be in place. Charity shops in the UK are losing customer sales of £3.4m a day for their parent charities.

“With the involvement of young people, we can help ensure charity shops across the country are in the best possible position to reopen and thrive with a reinforced volunteer team. We know people have used the lockdown period to declutter their houses and we are expecting our members to be showered with stock as soon as they open their doors.”

Oxfam: Shops reopening June 15

Oxfam GB has announced that it will start reopening some of its charity shops in England on June 15, in line with many other large charities.

The charity says that it aims to reopen all shops in England by the end of July. Shops in Wales and Scotland, where different social distancing rules apply, will remain closed.

Oxfam GB is introducing a range of new measures to protect staff and customers from the impact of the coronavirus.

These include asking people to phone ahead before dropping off donations, reorganising shops to follow social distancing guidance, and giving personal protection equipment (PPE) to staff and volunteers.

£5m losses

Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said: “Our shops are a much-loved part of their communities and, at this difficult time, we can’t wait to reopen our doors and reconnect with our supporters and shoppers.

“Our shop staff and volunteers are working hard to make sure we can welcome the public back into Oxfam stores safely."

Oxfam GB has nearly 600 charity shops in the UK. Last month it confirmed that it was losing £5m each month from shop closures during lockdown.

The 2020 Charity Shops Survey is open now, find out more and download the questionnaire here.


More on