Volunteering At Barnardo’s Vintage

A huge hello to everyone reading! My name is Alice, I’m 28, I love the Simpsons and adore all things vintage! In January 2015 I was having a difficult time with my mental health and wasn’t working. Enter: Barnardo’s Vintage! A Barnardo’s charity shop like no other.

At that time, I was living with my parents in their new house, down the road from Cheadle Village. A stroll out one day lead to my first visit to Barnardo’s Vintage; I decided almost instantly that volunteering there was something I would absolutely love to do. Why was that?  It seemed to be a place that had the ultimate escapism affect (I wasn’t wrong). The kitsch jewellery, children’s toys, balls of yarn – there was so much variety to take in. A fascinating place, laid out to perfection.The shop manager, Gemma and I bonded instantly over a love for vintage, we chatted about different items from the crockery section, talked fashion and it was there and then I signed up to volunteer. Barnardo’s Vintage is (as described by customers on countless occasions) “an Aladdin’s cave” it is nostalgia personified. The inside of the shop has always been a visual journey of past eras and what they beheld. Tea sets from the 1960s, Art Deco glass bowls, suitcases, typewriters and sewing machines from various years, clothes that adorned kitsch sequins from the 1980’s – the shop is absolutely fascinating. During my time volunteering the shop played music from a vintage record player adding to the ambiance of the time capsule that is; Barnardo’s vintage.

Volunteering days were always so interesting and different. Having a vintage delivery was rather exciting; cleaning up donations and seeing items from bygone times spruced up was really lovely. Front facing customer service was something I’d done for the 7 years prior, volunteering at Barnardo’s Vintage was unlike my previous experiences. There were lots of excited faces when people discovered items from their childhood, old toys and figurines, fashion items from their teen years and even furniture – although that was always snapped up very quickly! Vinyl corner was popular and rightly so as there were some fantastic donations. It was a lovely place to be; a place where I learnt to become mindful.

The other volunteers and the lovely manager, Gemma, gave me hope again. I was volunteering alongside selfless, good humoured and friendly people; this meant so much during a challenging time in my life. Gemma is without a doubt the most talented visual merchandiser I have ever met (sorry to those I worked with at Debenhams and Selfridges!). The shop attracts instant attention from EVERY passer-by. The window displays created by Gemma are always incredible, unsurprisingly the items used in the displays are usually snapped up and in reserves for customers!

A wonderful experience is how I sum up my time at the shop. My confidence was built up, my mental health improved and I was able (after 6 months) to enter back into employment with a happier outlook. Barnardo’s Vintage was a contributing factor towards my recovery. A massive thank you to Gemma and her team. A fond memory at the shop was meeting Sue Nicholls (Audrey from Corrie!) who had visited on previous occasions. She was very friendly and wrote in the shop’s guestbook!

I have purchased a variety of items from Barnardo’s Vintage over the years. From clothing to houseware. Please see my top 5 favourite purchases from Barnardo’s Vintage!

This absolutely awesome Eastex Heirloom Blouse.

(These count as 2!) These ultra-kitsch earrings and gold necklace –  which I have worn loads!

One of many cardigans from Barnardo’s. This one is my favourite as it’s so colourful!

Probably one of my first buys; a trinket pot (flowers, make up brushes, pens) which has hosted a variety of things over the years.

One of my friends, Eilis, is a life style blogger who also loves Barnardo’s Vintage! She has featured some awesome Barnardo’s fashion purchases on her Instagram – eilis.anne. Please see below for some stunning looks created by Eilis with some of the fab donations bought from Barnardo’s. It just goes to show that some items of clothing can be timeless!

  1. Features a lovely red beret bought from Barnardo’s.

2. This look is complete with a splash of blue, this gorgeous blouse boasts a beautiful collar!

3. Eilis looks stunning in this red dress from Barnardo’s, vintage shopping is mega!

4. A candy-striped shirt never looked so comfortable!

5. Nothing beats a vintage tee, Eilis you’ve captured Barnardo’s vintage fashion AWESOMELY!

A massive thank you go Gemma, the Barnardo’s team and Eilis. I hope you get to experience Barnardo’s vintage as a customer or a volunteer – no matter which, it’s an amazing place I’m sure you’ll love.

Alice x

Want to share your top Barnardo’s finds with us and feature on The-Thrift? Comment below and we’ll get in touch!

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