I joined Emmaus Oxford as the Deputy Store Manager in October 2021 and enjoy seeing the difference my work makes first-hand.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked in retail management for big corporate brands. Emmaus Oxford was my first venture into the charity sector and I’ve noticed huge differences. In corporate roles, it’s all about the bottom line. Whereas, at Emmaus Oxford I feel like I’m giving something back and doing something good. I’m using my skills and experience to make a difference in a small way.

My role involves running the store, making sure the companions are looked after, customer service, stock rotation, and health and safety. I’m full-time and Jaime, the Store Manager, is part-time, so I cover some of what she used to do on a full-time basis.

When I first started, I was untrained in this sector and working with people who are classed as vulnerable. I’ve done quite a lot of training through Emmaus Oxford – my Mental Health First Aid, a course on Autism and I’m going to be doing a course on Addiction Counselling soon.

I really enjoy working with the companions. They’re a good bunch and I think overall, enjoy being part of the team, interacting with the customers and the physicality of the work. I’ve made good relationships with them, which I think is important because I’m working alongside them as well as supporting them.

Our retail team has bi-weekly meetings with the support staff which I find useful. We’ll talk about each individual and we’ll often see subtle differences in the way a person is behaving or what they’re going through. They might have spoken to one of us in retail about something but not the support team and vice versa.

My favourite thing about the role is my colleagues, and I include the companions in that too. I enjoy that no two days are the same as well. Even if the store isn’t particularly busy sales wise, we’re always busy moving furniture, looking after customers and sorting out issues on the vans.

In store, we hope to have more promotions and sales coming up. There’s also a new upcycling workshop at the community which is being kitted out and we’ve just bought another residential property which is exciting. We will have more move-on accommodation for people just getting back into work.

Recently, we’ve had quite a few people who have got jobs and moved out as well, which is really positive and what Emmaus Oxford is all about. I think working in the store gives companions the confidence to apply for jobs that they wouldn’t have applied for before. The support staff help them with applications and interview techniques, but I think the day-to-day working in the store, dealing with customers, and problem solving means they naturally gain the confidence to apply for roles.

If anyone wants to support Emmaus Oxford, as well as buying items in our store at 242 Barns Road, they can help by giving a financial donation through our website, donate furniture or bric-a-brac, use our house clearance service, or support our eBay site where we sell a selection of mid-century furniture.