MEET the Rhodes family, who put a whole new meaning to the phrase “charity begins at home”.
After dad Andy became a volunteer for Rotherham Hospice, his wife and two of their children signed up too.
They say giving up their time at the charity’s furniture store has brightened their lives and given them new purpose.
Andy (44) had to leave the supermarket job he loved after 25 years after spinal damage suffered in an epileptic seizure in 2014.
He popped into the hospice’s store on Maltby’s High Street as a customer last year - and left having signed up to volunteer.
“As a family we have gone through so much and working at the shop has made such a difference to all our lives,” he said.
“Losing my job knocked me for six. I wanted to get back into some sort of work, but I’d lost all my confidence and didn’t think I would ever feel useful again.
“The shop manager, Sam Cruise, eased me gently into retail duties and I loved it. I loved interacting with colleagues and customers again.”
In addition to being a PAT tester for donated electrical items, Andy, from Maltby, set up a Facebook page for the shop. He is now helping hospice bosses develop a wider social media strategy.
Andy felt so good about volunteering that he persuaded daughter Lucy (22), who was nervous about restarting work after having a baby, to follow suit.
“She now works in the hospice shop and on the vans 22 hours a week and has her confidence back,” he said.
Next, Andy convinced son Ashley to get involved and the 18-year-old college student, who wants to be a police officer, works four hours a week on the shop floor.
Finally, Andy’s wife Cheryl (42) decided to join them - taking the family’s hours tally above the average employee’s paid working week.
“I think we’re taking over!” said Andy. “Our youngest boy Taylor is 13 and just a bit too young, but who knows what the future may bring.”
And during National Volunteers Week, Andy is urging others to give up their time for the hospice.
“There are lots of interests and abilities you could bring to the hospice too,” he said.
“You can help in your own unique way.”
Jean Clarke, the hospice’s interim voluntary services co-ordinator, said: “We are so grateful for the time and energy the Rhodes family give us.
“Volunteering for charity is as a selfless act but those who do it often say that helping others enhances their lives.”
The hospice has 400 volunteers helping in roles including administration, catering, fundraising, driving and retail. To find out more, call Jean on 01709 308913 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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