Niamh Busby, 17, an A Level student from Bangor, started helping out at the Age NI store on Central Avenue in 2015.
Niamh said, 'I volunteer every other Saturday. I’m still at secondary school completing my A Levels so I’m able to do school work during my break. I manage the till and shop floor, putting new items out on the shelves and rails. My volunteer role is really supporting me to gain valuable experience working with the public. I’m learning to use my own initiative and to look at new ways to improve my skills. I enjoy conversations with customers and I like being helpful and putting a smile on their face. Volunteering in the shop has also helped me to overcome my shyness especially when meeting or talking to strangers.'
'I know that one of the biggest challenges facing older people in Northern Ireland is loneliness. That’s why the Age NI shop is so important. I know many older people who enjoy coming in for a chat. I hope that I’m helping them to feel less lonely. Some older customers are dealing with health issues like arthritis so I support them while they pay for items at the till and pack their shopping bags. It feels good to be able to make a positive difference in the lives of local older people. I’d urge others to join the team.'
Derek McClure, Acting Manager in the Age NI Bangor Store (pictured above), said, 'Age NI relies heavily on volunteers, like Niamh, who provide vital support every week to ensure the smooth running of the shop. People volunteer with us for many reasons - to improve employability, to gain work experience, to increase confidence, and to give back to the community.
'The summer is a good time for students to volunteer in our shop and to explore areas of work that might be of interest to them. We also need regular support from volunteers throughout the year, so whether you're looking to fit volunteering around study or other commitments including work or a caring role, just sparing a few hours each week is a big help.
'There is so much you can do to support us from customer service to window dressing. No matter your interest or experience, we will provide training. Age NI greatly values the contribution of our volunteers – we appreciate how they give up their time and energy to help us to raise money for older people in need.'
To volunteer, fill out the volunteer form, telephone 028 9024 5729 or email firstname.lastname@example.org