Our PR & Communications team are always looking to tell our story. Their weekly ‘A day in the life of…’ series takes them around our charity retail department. Tamsin Thomas recently joined the warehouse sorting team at our site in Holmbush, St Austell for what she describes as an ‘eye opening day’:

Sometimes your day takes an unexpected turn and that’s exactly what happened when I arrived at our warehouse in Daniels Lane. I went to say hello to the van teams and found myself carrying shelving, mirrors and chairs as they loaded up what’s needed for our pop up shop at the Royal Cornwall Show. “It’s like putting together a complicated jigsaw puzzle” says one of them, as we each bring out items from the store. It’s strange to think this random assortment of items will eventually become the smart, eye catching retail stand that always proves very popular.

Van loaded, I’m off to find Becks and Ali, hidden heroes who work behind the scenes to sort the thousands of bags of donations that come in to our charity. They’re on their feet all day sorting donations, bagging them up and loading boxes for our various shops. The work is relentless, but important and these two face it head on with a smile!


Ali (left) started as a volunteer three years ago and joined the staff six months later. She says she prefers to be behind the scenes. She and I will share a bench for the day and between her and Becks they stay very patient as I ask constant questions! “It’s like painting the Forth Road Bridge”, says Becks, “it never ends, with constant supplies of clothing donations coming in thanks to our very generous supporters.”

I learn about the various ways we sort – women’s tops, women’s jackets and jumpers, men’s clothing, items for the clearance shops and children’s outfits, to name a few. My first bag contains a beautiful wedding dress and I’m invited to put it in the ‘fine sorting room’. It’s an inner sanctum in the warehouse where the damp can’t get in and it’s home to wedding dresses, evening frocks and designer clothes. Who would have known?

The sorting team also look out for specific items, like these boots that will be ideal for a Ska themed window at our Perranporth lifestyle shop and this Radley bag that might be a genuine, and therefore ideal, item for selling on our Ebay site.

I ask if Becks and Ali have ever found treasure while sorting; “we once found £200 in cash in a handbag that had been sorted, sent to a shop and then returned!” Memorably I find some Royal Marine camouflage kit in one of my bags. It’s back breaking work, or is it that I’m just not match fit for this role, and my legs ache from standing up all day. The lifting, shifting and sorting is constant, but hats off to Becks and Ali who do this with a smile, week after week. So next time you’re in one of our shops, remember the sorters because they are our hidden heroes!

We’re always looking for volunteers to help Becks and Ali in our warehouse.