In 2020, Gemma was diagnosed with brain cancer and went through treatment during the national Covid-19 restrictions. Around the same time, she lost her job that she’d been doing for 20 years.

“After my treatment ended, I still felt very lost and lonely. I just thought I need to do something with my life now. I can’t stay at home feeling depressed.”

Because she wasn’t ready to go back to a full-time job, Gemma decided to try something new. Now, she spends three mornings a week volunteering between our café in our hospice building, which is open to the public, and the East Cowes shop.

“Volunteering makes me so happy. It gives me a reason to get up and look forward to my day.

“We get a lot of regulars in the shop and café, which reminds me of my old job. I’m a very social person, and I love to chat with them.

“Everyone is so welcoming and kind, and I’m surrounded by people who care about me. I think there’s no better place for me to be.”

Volunteering has supported Gemma during her recovery while giving her the experience that will help her in the future.

“I’m not physically ready to go back to work yet, but I need something to keep my mind active.

“What I love about the shop is that I can be creative, like when we make window displays for things like Mother’s Day, festivals, Halloween, or Christmas.

“Sometimes I suggest ideas for things we could do; then I get to implement them and see them in action. I reorganised the children’s clothes into age groups to make it easier for parents, and we’ve sold a lot more since then.

“I’m glad to know that when I am ready to apply for jobs, I’ll have something to put on my CV for the last few years. I also have more confidence that I could apply for something like working in a café because I’ve got the experience.

“If I didn’t have volunteering, I don’t know where I’d be now. My perspective on life has changed a lot, and I think that if you want to try something new, don’t be scared – just go for it.”

Whether you want to build your confidence, keep active or meet friendly new people, we can help you get the most out of life by volunteering. Find out more about our roles here.

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