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Why I volunteer: “Being an artist in a hospice shop is therapeutic”

08 January 2018

Dan Dickens has found a unique way of volunteering for Hospiscare in one of their Exeter shops. A local artist, here he explains his niche role at the shop, which specialises in vintage and antique books, music, art and collectables.

“I have had a few health problems recently, so just over a year ago as part of my recovery I decided to do some volunteering. Charity shops have always appealed to me and over my lifetime I have furnished a couple of homes from the Hospiscare shops in Exeter.  I have a passion for art and collecting so it was a natural choice to apply for a shop volunteering role.

“The usual tasks you think of with this nature of volunteering are replenishing stock, pricing, serving customers and cleaning.  But I provide a new context of involvement that rewards both myself and the charity.”

“I volunteer in the South Street Shop most Tuesdays.  I come along, sit in the shop and fix up art that is badly damaged.  I also work on dull paintings that need cheering up.  It is usually pieces that are not good enough for sale in their current condition, so with a bit of work they get refreshed and can then be sold on.” 

“Art has been part of my life since I was a kid. I sell my own oil paintings, specialise in repair and I also teach."  

“When you work as an artist it is often in isolation. Coming into the shop with the atmosphere of a work place and customers has been therapeutic. So, of course I want to carry on volunteering, they are such a friendly crowd in the shop.  I would encourage others to give volunteering a go too.  Hospiscare helps you find a role that suits you and if you are as lucky as me you will find something that actually develops your talents.”

Hospiscare’s South Street Shop Manager Glyn Antle-Trapnell commented:

“I like to maximise on the talents our volunteers have and give people the opportunity to use their skills and expertise.  Originally, Dan applied to our Fore Street Shop, but when I found out about his artistic background and passion for collecting I knew he would be ideally suited to the South Street Shop.  The shop is an eclectic mix of ever-changing stock and a treasure trove of unique items, which pulls in international shoppers from China, Japan and the United States.”

“The more I got to know Dan, the more convinced I was of how we could use his skill base.   As an artist and teacher he is confident and comfortable creating art with people watching.  It takes a positive frame of mind to work on a piece of art while being questioned about your technique and artistic background, and Dan always responds in an inclusive way. His painting in the shop has transformed the customer experience.  People interact with Dan whilst he paints, it gives a whole new dimension to the shop environment, which has become more expansive and creative.

For more information visit Hospicecare

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