Working with a smile

Smiley faces are everything when it comes to help the planet!

Dorset Reclaim is a non-profit organization. Here it is possible to
buy almost anything: sofas, mattresses, chairs, bookcases, washing
machines, decorations and all kinds of households goods. The
major part of the merchandise is second-hand, so everything has a
low price and is affordable to everyone.
The best way to explain its history is to listen the testimony of its
founder: Ray. After I asked him about how Dorset Reclaim was
established, he answered: “In 1995 I started working for social
services, and after seeing the needs of the poor people, I wanted to
give them practical help, here in Bournemouth.” In September 2001
he, together with a friend, who could be considered the first
volunteer of a long series, started from zero (just think that they
draw advertisements on paper with their own hands). They started
by providing and organizing all the materials to build the facilities,
including all the tools and materials to sell and gathered all the
volunteers willing to work with them. Two months later, the first
department opened in Bournemouth, followed by three further
departments, one in Poole, one in Dorchester and one in
Christchurch. The main goal was (and still is) to supply low income
families with discounted furniture of good quality but with low
prices. However, it isn’t the only purpose: they also want to
encourage people to re-use and recycle, because, as they say on
their website: “[…] recycling is good for the environment, but reuse
is even better. Recycling consumes energy that simply reusing
avoids”.
Over the past 17 years, they have helped more than 80,000 people
and they have saved over 25,000 tonnes of household waste
destined to the landfill. Furthermore, they engaged about 10,000
volunteers in total, and I interviewed three of them, who are working
in this period and who have
supported me during my experience in Dorset Reclaim.
IRENE
Irene is a hilarious nanny: she has been working for Dorset Reclaim
since 2006, and everyone here is happy to have her as a co-worker.
She always works with enthusiasm: “Helping people is my passion and seeing the smile on their faces fills me with happiness.
Even though there is lots of work to do here, I always try to keep my
crew happy”.
VICKY
Vicky is 19 years old; she comes from Brazil, and she has been
living in Bournemouth for four years. Four months ago she decided
to work for Dorset Reclaim during her days off, because she was
looking for a way to gain more skills for both her English and her
future working life. “At first I was sceptic about this job”, she said,
“but I found nothing but friendly people and smiley faces. They like
to help those that are in need of new furniture, home appliances
and so on.”. Since good food is provided every day for all the
volunteers, she continued: “I really enjoy my days here because we
can eat tasty food and talk one another during the lunch break”.
ELEN
She has been working here for about 18 months. During her youth
she worked for customer services, and since she likes meeting
people and interacting with them, after her retirement she chose to
work at Dorset Reclaim. “You don’t get many upset people here; all
the other volunteers are very friendly and even if I’m not perfect and
I make lots of mistakes, they always support me”.
Dorset Reclaim’s background seems to be clear thanks to these
testimonies: “friendly people”, “happiness” and “support” are
recurring words that depict a picture of a peaceful organization, like
a very tight-knit family, in the spirit of safeguarding of the nature and
altruism towards others.
On 30th October I started my three-weeks experience in
Bournemouth, obviously working for
Dorset Reclaim. It was not my first work experience working, but it
was my first time working using a
different language and in a different country, without the support of
my family and far 2,000
Kilometers from home. I was obviously scared, and for me being
afraid means (or maybe had meant) to be very clumsy, even more than usual. I have been causing
dozens of mistakes, but despite this,
I have been always supported and encouraged by everyone: they
have always been patient with me, teaching step
by step how I had to do my tasks, for instance how to interact with
customers, how to do receipts
or how to create and fill out documents about when and to which
person an item had to be delivered.

Some tasks I had: “sold” labels to stick on tools bought by someone but temporary left in the warehouse and receipts to fill out and to give to the customers

Dorset Reclaims’ database in which I had to put informations about clients, delivering and so on

After three weeks, I can tell that I lived an extremely positive
experience, and I hope that the skills I learnt (about working and my
English) won’t remain just in Dorset Reclaim, but I hope they will be
always with me in my future, even when I won’t encounter “smiley
faces” like the ones I met there, in Bournemouth.

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