Katie O'Neill came to live on the Costa del Sol 15 years ago. She soon discovered the Cudeca Foundation and began working as a volunteer. Today, Katie is the coordinator of Cudeca's 23 shops and outlets and, as she explains to SUR in English, she is now spearheading a campaign to enlist the help of new volunteers to get the outlets back on track after the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
How did you become involved with Cudeca?
I asked at school if there were any charity shops where I could donate some of my children's clothes and someone told me about Cudeca. This is when I first discovered Cudeca, and seeing as the children were in school, I had time to offer my services.
How are the shops coping after reopening following the state of alarm?
There have been challenges and we wondered how it would be after the lockdown, but people have been coming to browse and to buy things. We have been receiving some wonderful feedback, so that is really good.
Were people more willing to help during the lockdown?
Obviously, we could not have the help of the older generation, but it was nice to see more younger people volunteering because they had time on their hands. Many had been made unemployed by the pandemic, but once the restrictions began to lift, these people returned to work, leaving us short-staffed once more.
Why are you currently struggling to find new volunteers?
Everything has changed since the coronavirus pandemic struck. A large proportion of our volunteers were senior citizens and retirees. Some felt that it would be too much of a risk to come back to work in the shops.
How are you attracting younger volunteers?
This is a good way to gain work experience. We have had some younger volunteers that are using the experience to prepare for future employment. We teach them customer relations and general retail skills that will help them in the future.
Which shops require volunteers at the moment?
To be honest, we pretty much always need volunteers for our shops, but at the moment we are desperate to find people to work in Marbella, San Pedro and El Palo.
How can people get information about becoming a volunteer for the shops?
The best way is for people to go into their local Cudeca shop, or contact our volunteer department, the details of which can be found on our website.
How many hours and days do you require volunteers to work?
Generally, we do require volunteers to work on a regular basis. We usually ask for one shift per week, although they can do two. This will be a three-and-a-half-hour shift in the morning or afternoon.
What are the duties of the volunteer?
Our staff are all given training. We like to inform volunteers of what Cudeca does, because the shops are our primary source of income. Duties include sorting donations, serving customers, cleaning, restocking and generally keeping the shop clean and tidy.
Can Cudeca guarantee the safety of its volunteers?
We have employed all the necessary health and safety measures in all our shops. I feel satisfied that both customers and staff will be completely protected.