Bring volunteering into the 21st century with Boutique by Shelter

26th February 2020
Bring volunteering into the 21st century with Boutique by Shelter

Volunteering is a great way to support great causes and communities whilst also gaining great experience and boosting your career. Boutique by Shelter is a charity with a mission to end homelessness and bad housing in England and Scotland. We sat down with Hattie Lamb, the Manager of Boutique by Shelter in Coal Drops Yard to gain further insight into the volunteer industry and what it can offer candidates.  

Hattie has been working at Shelter for over a year now and loves what she does, she touches on the importance of loving what you do by describing Shelter as “a unique place to work. It’s so exciting to be a part of this organisation; and increasing Shelter’s brand recognition and communicating what we do.” Hattie goes on to elaborate on her enthusiasm for sustainable fashion stating “We’re trying to change the way that people shop by being massive advocates of sustainability which is really fascinating!”  

Changing perceptions of charity  

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Boutique by Shelter they differentiate how charities are viewed using modern concepts “Boutique by Shelter is different to other charities because of the general concept that was set up 4 years ago. We have 11 boutiques in London specialising in stocking high end pieces and curating them. The stock we have is amazingly presented and much better curated than elsewhere.” Delving further Hattie adds “What makes Boutique by Shelter in Coal Drops Yard unique is that we’re very trends focused. We look to the high streets for inspiration and incorporate that into our store”.  

Synergy is heavily demonstrated in everything Boutique by Shelter does, their Coal Drops Yard store  which is designed by HemingwayDesign incorporates the companies sustainability ethos by using recycled and regenerated items on the shop floor “even the bars that we hang our clothes on were made from gate posts – we like endorsing the message of rejuvenation and regeneration at every steps. It’s at the heart of what we do.”   

The future of Charity 

Shelter has grown tremendously across the UK so it’s understandable why there would be interest in where Boutique by Shelter Coal Drops Yard will progress over the next few years. Although they currently do community workshops and events with the purpose of pushing the boundaries of what a charity shop means in the traditional sense. Hattie explains “I want to get a program of workshops going to engage with the community more.  We want to become a household name in this area that is easily recognised while making a lot of money for our cause.” 

Hattie goes on to say, “We have a great momentum going here and I want to keep that spirit going, that’s why it’s important for us to have a strong and cohesive team and volunteer base.”  

Creating a great team 

Every employer will tell you how crucial a great workforce is, Hattie explains that when selecting volunteers, she looks for “Someone who is passionate about Shelter, charity, and sustainability. Being communicative and a great team player is also important”. But finding the right fit doesn’t stop there “With volunteers we usually ask for references and then the next stage would be a casual interview and a trial shift. In the trial shift is usually when I would observe whether they’d be the right fit for our small and tightly knit team. We do work closely together, and we’d want someone who can keep the cogs going, get invested and get on well with everyone. We like a nice team! 

Thinking about volunteering? 

Volunteering can give you valuable experience so it’s understandable why many people consider doing it. Hattie reminiscences on how volunteering has transformed the lives of her peers “I’ve seen some amazing things happen with volunteers – volunteering can do so much!”  

She continues “I’ve seen it promote confidence, independence and creativity. We like to identify strengths in our volunteers and if they love doing something, we encourage them to have ownership over their own projects.”  

How does volunteering at Shelter help career progression? 

Although the basis of volunteering at Shelter revolves around working in the store and gaining “customer facing retail experience, learning how to use the tills and how to make sales” Shelter supports their volunteers by giving them more opportunities. “We also do NVQ’s through Shelter. We try to get people more involved with what we do by allowing our passionate volunteers to go and visit our hubs and get involved”.  

“Our volunteers also work at the events that we organise giving them experience in the events industry.  Additionally, we do DIY fashion shoots with influencers which our volunteers get involved with too! We’re always looking for digital marketers and social media gurus so that’s another route for our volunteers to explore. Plus, all these skills look great on their CV, especially if they’re interested in the fashion industry and sustainability.”  

Has KXR placed anyone with you before? 

“Yes, you have! We’ve found 4 of our volunteers through KX Recruit. Two of which have now gone on to other positions; one externally and the other now has a very influential position at Shelter’s Head Office. We were very much involved in assisting those volunteers by upskilling them so they could be ready for their new jobs. It’s amazing how great the quality of volunteers has been from KX Recruit – they’ve been enthusiastic and engaging.”  

How would you rate your experience with KXR on a scale of 1-5 (1 being the least, 5 being the most)? 

“I’d say 5 because of the support you’ve given me with finding the right volunteers. If it wasn’t for the KXR Recruitment Managers sending applicants over my job would be so much harder. I am truly privileged as a shop manager to have you guys. You’re a valuable asset.”  

Has it been easy working with KXR? 

“Yes, the first time I met up with you guys was a year ago, I had recently started my job and was setting up. During the recruitment process for my role I was interviewed at KX Recruit as Shelter CDY use the rooms for interviews and they’re incredibly useful. I now use the rooms for inductions and recruitment which I find very helpful. I still can’t believe it’s free of charge – its’s such an amazing service!  

I enjoy coming to the KX office, there’s always a good chat and a laugh. You’re a very nice team and you’re also very professional!” 

What are you looking for? 

“I’m looking for someone with original ideals and a passion for what they do.” If you’d like to apply for Shelter Coal Drops Yard, please visit our website. 

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