Forget long lunches and golf rounds … eBay is where it's at! While the Office of National Statistics 2019 figures show that internet use for UK adults continues to rise steadily, recent internet use for those aged 64 to 74 years has leapt up to 83 per cent, from 52 per cent in 2011. But what has this to do with St Andrew's Hospice, you might ask? Quite a lot, actually …
Retired local lady Chris Collins is a volunteer in a rather special centre, one that brings in thousands of pounds of funding each year. Squirrelling away quietly in the background, and hidden from the public eye, the centre could almost rival America's Area 51, with its accidental secrecy!
After donations are made to the charity, they are sorted and redistributed to one of the 21 St Andrew's and Andy's shops in the region. Many of these items are of high value to the hospice and jewellery, watches, designer clothing and many more interesting pieces are taken from the general stock to make their way to the highly organised 'eBay Centre'. This is where Chris and her co-volunteers work to raise the highest possible prices for the items they place on the global internet shopping platform.
Chris explained: “I also volunteer for Citizens Advice. Around four years ago our drop-in times for clients changed, meaning that I had more free time each week. I didn't want to sit back in my retirement and when shopping in town one day, I saw a poster; St Andrew's Hospice was looking for volunteers for its new eBay Centre.
“I had an interview with Online Trading Manager Mark Cadey-Gell and, after a DBS check – which came through quite quickly – I started work there, appraising donated items and listing them on eBay.
“I have had an association with antiques and jewellery for much of my adult life so it seemed natural for me to gravitate towards dealing with such items, while other volunteers might specialise in cameras, IT equipment, toys, designer clothing etc.
“Don't get me wrong, I wouldn’t get a job in Sotheby’s or Aspreys – I am not an expert, I am just a keen amateur.”
Once Chris has identified and recognised her pieces each week, she has to photograph them and write descriptions before finally posting them for auction. Each person doing listings at the eBay centre has their own area of interest but there are lots of other volunteering roles there too, from general admin to packing the items they sell and preparing them for posting.
Chris continued: “I get a great sense of satisfaction from utilising my time to benefit the community and I can’t think of a better cause than the hospice and the excellent work it does. Apart from which, when you have retired, volunteering is a nice way to fill your day. At the eBay centre, while we take our work seriously, we also have lots of laughs and there’s a great sense of camaraderie.
“The eBay Centre is a fabulous place to volunteer and it is nice to know that, like a jigsaw, everyone slots into place and is working towards the same goal – helping the people who most need it at St Andrew's Hospice.”
A mere decade ago, many retired people would have been terrified at the thought of posting items on an online auction site, but as we head for 2020, the tide has well and truly turned and it seems that the idea of not knowing how to post on an online auction site is becoming a thing of the past!
You don't have to be an expert to be a volunteer at the eBay Centre, and you don't have to be an IT whizz either. An interest in a particular area and a basic knowledge of computers is just fine; or you may prefer to help with organising, admin or packing? Whatever your strength, there are plenty of roles available and as the online retail sector, and subsequently the hospice's eBay arm, grows bigger each year, volunteers like Chris are much valued and needed in this rapidly expanding area.
If you would like to volunteer for the eBay Centre, please call Mark on 01472 350908. If you can't give your time but have office supplies you can donate instead, the eBay team could also recycle your boxes, bubble wrap, polystyrene chips, tissue paper, brown tape, sellotape, brown wrapping paper, air pocket fillers and brown wrapping paper. Anything you might have left from those Christmas deliveries – thank you!
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer at St Andrew's Hospice, please visit: https://www.standrewshospice.com/st-andrews/get-involved/volunteering/