Children's hospice in urgent appeal for volunteers

EACH runs three hospices in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk Credit: ITV Anglia

A hospice charity has said it urgently needs more volunteers in order to keep raising money to support terminally-ill children and their families.

East Anglia's Children's Hospice (EACH) has launched a campaign to find more people willing to work in its 43 shops across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

The charity said the effects of the pandemic - such as people shielding or not feeling comfortable working in public - has cut the number of volunteer hours across all the stores by over 50%.

Sarah Throssell, EACH acting head of retail, said: "Our shops simply cannot run and raise the millions of pounds they normally do without the generosity of volunteers, and as more and more families exhausted from shielding reach out for support it’s never been so important."

The charity runs three hospices in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The pandemic has left a hole £2 million hole in its finances, although the charity said since shops were allowed to reopen in April it has seen a "positive level of footfall and donations".

A range of roles are on offer to people looking to volunteer at the shops.

"I’m mainly in the office doing paperwork on the computer and it’s nice to put my IT training to good use," said Chris Brighton, 27, who volunteers at the store on Plumstead Road in Norwich.

Meanwhile 77-year-old Michael Pomfret, who works at the Long Stratton store, said the team here are "like a family".

He added: "We all support each other. If you don’t know what you’re doing someone is always there to help, with a cup of tea in hand."

Hannah Milbourne, EACH volunteer services and development manager, said: "There are so many tasks to do in our shops, from sorting donations and running the till to testing electrical goods and listing items on our eBay shop.

"We also need helpers at our retail distribution centre and main eBay base, both in Thetford.

"No previous experience is required and even just a couple of hours a week makes a big difference."

EACH are currently offering taster shifts to people interested in volunteering.