A local charity shop in desperate need of volunteers has launched an urgent appeal to boost its roster.
Cancer Research UK’s Gravesend store was recently forced to shut its doors for a third time in response to Covid-19.
And while stock donations have increased immediately after each lockdown, the shop has seen returning volunteer numbers plummet with certain stores seeing staffing levels drop by a half.
The situation has prompted a nationwide call for help as the charity battles to claw back millions of pounds in lost income due to the pandemic.
As shops in Gravesend's High Street close once again, the Cancer Research branch is appealing for volunteers to register their support in time for re-opening.
Charlotte Erhardt, manager at the Gravesend Cancer Research UK shop, said: “We’re very lucky to have a great team here but sadly not all our volunteers have been able to return, largely due to health reasons.
"After the first lockdown eased, many shops were operating with only half the usual number of volunteers.
"Our shop volunteers are like family to us so it was heart-breaking to close our doors and stay at home during lockdown"
"The situation improved a little after that but further lockdowns haven’t helped. That’s why we’re appealing to anyone who can to give the gift of time this winter.
“Our shop volunteers are like family to us so it was heart-breaking to close our doors and stay at home during lockdown.
"I can’t stress enough how vital these volunteers are. Without their help, we simply would not be able to fund our outstanding doctors, nurses and scientists.”
Last year Cancer Research shops across England raised more than £75 million and the charity spent more than £30 million in the South East supporting life-saving research.
Thanks to its research, two in four people survive their cancer for at least 10 years and its ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their cancer.
But with shop closures and event cancellations, the charity is expecting a staggering £160 million drop in income across the UK in the year ahead.
There are lots of different jobs people can help with in stores from sorting donated stock, steaming and labelling clothing to serving at the till.
Charlotte added: “No experience is necessary to apply but till experience would be a good bonus. The main requirement is motivation and the desire to be part of a team.
“Many volunteers come in just one morning or afternoon a week, or sometimes just help over the busy lunchtime period. A few hours can make a huge difference and it can be a great way of adding to your CV.
"No matter how much time a person can give or what their experience, we are urging people to get in touch."
To sign up or to find out more about volunteering, visit: cancerresearchuk.org/shopvol