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Renaissance Centre Volunteer

It is almost four years since I began working for SSFS in the Renaissance Centre shop. I had never worked in a shop before, but it all seemed fairly simple – everything was done manually – sell furniture – put money in till (a simple idiot proof device I had no difficulty with) – write out a receipt – answer phone – fill in appropriate colour forms for collections, deliveries and referrals etc. Nothing to it really.

Not any more! How things have moved on over these few short years. We are almost paper free now – sales are logged onto a computer database – we have a point of sale card device and this electronic till – a powerful beast with a daunting array of keys – quite a lot to learn and master.

When I joined there was no Weeping Cross Lane warehouse and only three or four staff upstairs. Again there have been many changes. Numbers upstairs grew with the expanding activities of SSFS until they were sitting almost shoulder to shoulder. Most have now decamped to Rockspring and it is strangely quiet up there (except when Serena is in). And, since opening, Weeping Cross Lane has grown in the scope of work it does and people employed.

Why do I enjoy working for SSFS? I am not very knowledgeable about furniture, but can appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship in much of the furniture donated to us which is carefully prepared for display by the workshop. There seems to be an endless supply, much of it very old but still in good condition; it must have been cherished and cared for by generations of owners. It is good to know it has been saved to be useful and give pleasure for many more years.

Then there are the books. Thanks to Helen we have a wide range, well displayed which are attracting many book-lovers (including me) who browse and occasionally buy.

Finally there are the people – the special people comprising our staff and our customers. They are rarely rude (I can recall only one instance) or impatient, even when I’m fiddling about with the keys of the dreaded till, and so often a remark about a book or piece of furniture will start a rewarding conversation.

So these are the things – the furniture, the books, the customers and the staff – which for me, make volunteering with SSFS so satisfying and worthwhile. That’s one of the odd things about volunteering – you will probably gain more than you give.

Volunteer Customer Service Assistant at Renaissance Centre


October 10, 2012

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