Five months must be my natural tolerance for “doing nothing”, for living without any formal work commitments, without any structure to my time. I’ve got to the point where I need to “do something”.

I remember similar sentiments after five months of maternity leave, back in the day. I was then ready to get back to work. Now I am ready to do something useful and have some framework to my week. as we wait for our house sale to work out.

After a couple of useful and inspiring conversations, I chose a local hospice charity shop, completed a trial session, filled out forms, provided references and am now an approved volunteer.

It is a totally different environment to my working life. It involves sorting donations, clothes, household fabrics, toys, bric a brac, books, media. Items suitable for future window displays are put aside. Recent windows have related to Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and now toys for half term week.

Clothes are organised onto hangers, with size tags, price tags are added with a cool little gun gadget. The manager actually prices items but we then place them on shop floor. Clothes racks constantly need tidying. As items are sold, shelves and displays need to be restocked. They’ve let me loose on the till, taking cash, processing credit card transactions.

Everything gets labelled with a week code and stock is rotated amongst other shops after two weeks to keep all stock fresh. Our smallish shop has sales targets of £500 pounds per day.

On my first morning shift, I arrived before the manager, so waited outside. A lady loitered and I started talking to her. She wanted to buy something from the window, but had a fixed appointment, so even before the shop had opened, I had taken £12 with a promise to put two items aside for her to collect later.

Standing up for hours on end is also a new experience for me. I have spent decades sitting at a desk. The standing plus a half hour walk each way has got to be good for me. I’m only working two shifts each week, three and half hours for each shift. Nothing too strenuous.

I’m enjoying it, I’m gaining new experiences, meeting new people and seeing a different side of life.

Credit to the multitude of volunteers who freely give their time and energy and contribute to our society.