Diana Leipold is the manager of the Oxfam charity shop in Orpington (BR6 0NQ). I would like to thank Diana for agreeing to partake in the interview and urge everyone to volunteer and donate.

First off, why did you want to become the manager of an Oxfam charity shop?

“I have always been keen on charity work, particularly the work of Oxfam. Being a charity shop manager means that I can raise money to help others as part of my job. I would consider myself a people person and enjoy working with volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.”

As shop manager, what do you spend most of your time doing?

“My job is to manage volunteers and empower them to reach their goals- whatever they may be- as well as help them to gain skills. Managing also involves a lot of paperwork, regulations and control of finance. Ideally, I would just manage but we’re short of volunteers so I spend half my time doing work typically done by volunteers (such as processing and pricing donations, steaming clothes, tidying, stacking shelves, till work etc.)”

Why Oxfam?

“I relate to Oxfam’s goal of creating solutions to the injustice of poverty. Oxfam’s mission is highly positive and focused on improving people’s lives; I feel a sense of responsibility for those in third world countries with nothing.”

What’s the best/worst donation you’ve received?

“Dirty underwear is the worst, people often donate their rubbish instead of getting rid of it themselves- it’s disgusting! For me, the best donation was a signed 1st edition copy of Douglas Adam’s ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. Every so often, someone donates something rare and valuable that is worth hundreds of pounds.

Why are charity shops important?

“Whilst money from fundraising goes to a specific cause, profits raised from charity shops are flexible. This means that Oxfam spends the money on whatever they see fit, for example, new projects.”

What would you say is the best part of your job?

“Seeing the volunteers develop new skills that I taught them and grow as people. I feel a sense of pride when one of my volunteers reaches their goal, for example, when a young person uses their skills gained from volunteering at Oxfam to get a job.”

What is the most frustrating part of your job?

“Society is changing meaning it is much harder for me to find volunteers. The benefits system has changed meaning that new mums no longer volunteer and instead go back to work. Childcare is so expensive that more and more grandparents babysit instead of volunteer. People who used to work part time and volunteer ae now more inclined to work full time. There is a countrywide lack of volunteers. This is limiting because it means I cannot do as much as I aim to, volunteers are crucial to the upkeep of charity shops. If this shortage continues, charities will have to employ paid staff to replace volunteers- this will drain profits.”

Would you recommend your job to others?

“I would recommend my job to people who like working with others and those who like to embrace a rewarding challenge!”

By Caitlin Mainwaring.