Sophy's story was shared in the Summer 2024 edition of Mill News, as part of National Volunteers' Week.  

Liz Diamond, Romsey Mill Charity Shop Development Manager, shares the story of Sophy, who has been supported by Romsey Mill as a young mum, then as a volunteer, and who now works in the Shop. Liz says:

“Sophy’s sparkling smile greets us as she arrives for her afternoon shift.  Popular with the other volunteers, she quickly injects some laughter into the shop during the lunchtime slump.  Later, she and I reflect on the four years she has volunteered for us which has led to her paid sessional work in the shop.

“Sophy first came across Romsey Mill when she was pregnant with her daughter in 1999, when her midwife flagged up the support she could receive through the Trust.  Despite the love and support of a lovely mother and grandparents, Sophy struggled enormously with self-belief and experienced very low confidence.  

“Twenty years later, Sophy tentatively enquired about volunteering in the Charity Shop. 

“Facing some increasingly serious health conditions Sophy was very worried about committing to something that may not be for her. As time went on, realising that there wasn’t any pressure to commit to more than was comfortable, Sophy committed more of her time to the shop.

“Possessing a naturally a good eye for fashion and lots of knowledge of current trends she took well to sorting through and pricing clothes.  She began to enjoy being valued as a good team player and a hard worker.

“The important function of the shop is fundraising unrestricted funds for Romsey Mill.  

“However, we also choose to also focus our efforts on working positively with the local community.  We build relationships with a range of people who come to see us, and we do more than just sell useful affordable goods, they trust us to help them with supportive conversations and good information and advice. 

“Sophy understands this aspect of the work of the shop and looks to reflect the values of Romsey Mill in her approach.  Many of the volunteers know first-hand what customers in need because of their own experience and are mentored in how to meet this within appropriate boundaries.

“To help with this, Sophy chose to develop her knowledge and qualifications and undertook an NVQ Level 2 in Youth Work.  She went on to work for a satellite project of the Youth Development Team which also has informed her work in the shop. 

“Sophy looks to help other volunteers to build in confidence through her example and in using her experience of being mentored, Sophy gives back to the team and customers around her. 

“As Sophy says herself, working in the shop has given her the opportunity to unlock the skills she hadn’t been able to utilise before and has given her the platform to grow in confidence.

“The reason I put my heart into my role in the Charity Shop is to see people benefit from a community project and then give back to it. 

“People like Sophy, who choose to give back to the community so successfully, makes the hard work involved in managing a charity shop completely worthwhile. I love and believe in the volunteer team and in community of Mill Road.”

If you are interested in applying to volunteer with Romsey Mill, you can download and complete a copy of our volunteer application form and send it to [email protected].

If you want to discuss any volunteering opportunities with us, call 01223 213162 and speak to the appropriate team.