Volunteering in Rowcroft’s ‘Aladdin’s Cave’

A “win-win” role for Anna in The Emporium, Newton Abbot

From teapots to tables, coats to cushions, and bags to books, there’s an eclectic mix of items on offer at Rowcroft’s Emporium. This quirky Aladdin’s Cave is where Rowcroft’s volunteer Anna Gorton (pictured front left with Rowcroft’s warehouse team) spends her time on Wednesdays – sorting, pricing and displaying unique donated items and helping to raise much-needed funds for the hospice. Here we glimpse a fascinating peek into Anna’s role.

Anna’s journey with Rowcroft

“I started volunteering with the hospice nearly two years ago. I was inspired to do so because of the way that Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home team was able to help my family and in particular my mother-in-law at the end of her days. My volunteering is a way of saying thank you for the care that our family received. And I find that the volunteering enriches my life. I can see that I am really needed here and I can help in a practical way – so it’s win-win all round.”

Why people donate their goods

“If you scratch a little below the surface it’s clear that people donate items to our store not because they happen to be driving past but because they recognise how important the hospice is and how essential it is to fundraise for our vital care. Customers often have a personal connection and have experienced Rowcroft’s care directly. So to them The Emporium is definitely not just another charity shop: Rowcroft means so much more.”

Every donated item has a story

“The conversations that I have with people who are donating items are so enlightening; they help me to understand more about the amazing work that Rowcroft does. We often have people coming in who are bereaved and they’re passing on their loved one’s possessions. This is such a difficult thing for them to do and the emotional impact for them is so real. Contained in their bags, every single item has special meaning in their life and they want some good to come from their treasures. We’re glad to be able to breathe new life into these personal items, so that they can go on to have another life somewhere else.”

An inclusive environment

“The environment in the Emporium is particularly good for me. I have a hearing difficulty so background noise can make hearing challenging, but the Emporium has limited background noise to interfere with my hearing. I’m reasonably self-conscious about my hearing difficulty. However, it really helps if people look at me when they speak to me – as I do quite a lot of lip-reading and I look for other external clues to help me with understanding.”

Sustainable shopping

“My experience in The Emporium has led me to be really passionate about reducing consumption, recycling and not buying new. We need to make our purchases more considered – we need to minimise the amount of waste, and we need to reuse as much as we can. If we’re going to buy, then it’s best to buy from charity shops where items are recycled. There are some amazing bargains to be found and it’s certainly not about settling for second best. It’s about having beautiful things in our lives that don’t cost the earth.”

Great value for money

“I now have a personal ambition to have a £1 wardrobe where everything inside it costs less than a pound. You can absolutely dress beautifully from your purchases at The Emporium; there are so many pre-loved treasures to be had.”

Enriching life

“I find that you get back as a volunteer as much as you put in. It’s not a chore at all; it brings additional value to my life and I always feel better after spending a day in this environment. I am so aligned with hospice and its values and that to me is really important. It’s also a very friendly, supportive and cooperative team. They indulge me when I get so enthusiastic and excited about all the beautiful treasures here!”


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