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Ashgate Hospice > Volunteer praises Ashgate Hospice shop for making working environment more accessible

An Ashgate Hospice charity shop has gone above and beyond by installing a new bespoke counter for its volunteers who use a wheelchair.

The purpose-built counter has been installed at the hospice’s store in Alfreton to ensure the shop is accessible for its disabled volunteers.

Emma Holloway, who has volunteered at the shop since 2014, said she can now fit her wheelchair under the shop counter.

When she was previously serving customers, the space was limited and there was not enough room for Emma to comfortably work there.

Shop Manager, Colette Bingley, said she feels proud to work for a charity that takes care of its staff and volunteers.

“We originally tried to move the old counter forward to try and give Emma and her wheelchair more space behind the counter,” said Colette.

“But Emma could not turn her chair around so spent her whole shift with her back to her team members.

“We soon realised that although this had given Emma a little bit more room, the counter was not really fit for purpose for both Emma and Jess, our other volunteer who is a wheelchair user.”

Emma Holloway behind the till counter at our Alfreton charity shop.

Area Support Manager, Anna Bartram, worked with the hospice’s Deputy Head of Income Generation, Laura Stevens, to arrange funding for a new shop counter.

They consulted Sheffield-based shopfitter, Phil Marsden, who made the bespoke counter so wheelchairs could fit under the shop’s till.

Colette said: “This new counter has given all of the team more space, but the most important thing is that it has enabled our volunteers who use wheelchairs to be able to turn and engage with their colleagues and feel part of the team.

“For me personally, I feel this is a real demonstration of how inclusivity isn’t just a buzz word here at Ashgate Hospice

“The impact it has had on our team is just brilliant. I’m so proud to work for an organisation who really do care about their staff and volunteers.”

Now, as part of Volunteers Week, which takes place between 3rd and 9th June, the hospice is appealing for more volunteers – including people from all backgrounds and abilities – to consider joining one of its shops across North Derbyshire.

The charity is committed to ensuring its working environment is suitable for people of all abilities and is open to making adjustments.

Since the counter was installed, Emma said it has made “a massive difference” to her volunteering experience at the shop on Alfreton’s High Street.

‘Supportive’

Emma, who lives in Alfreton, said: “Now I can get my chair under the counter and reach the till with ease, and I’ve also got space to wrap items for customers when they come in and support us.

“Being able to turn my chair around behind the counter has made it so much easier for me to support my colleagues and get in and out of the space. It’s made a massive difference to my volunteering experience.”

She added: “I love volunteering at the Ashgate Hospice shop in Alfreton; it’s like one big family and everyone is very supportive of one another.

“I especially enjoy interacting with customers who come in and buy items and the people who come and generously drop off their donations.

“I’d urge anyone thinking about coming in and volunteering at one of the hospice’s shops to just go for it – it’s such a rewarding experience.”

Ashgate Hospice currently has retail volunteer vacancies in its shops and coffee shops across North Derbyshire. For more details email [email protected].

Alternatively, you can browse the roles available and apply today, or if you would like to speak to someone about any adjustments you may need, reach out to the hospice’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Liz Allam on [email protected].