As a freelance writer I’ve spent the last five years firmly in the mindset that time is money. I can’t even allow myself a week’s holiday without working overtime before and after to make up for the lost billable hours. So I was as
surprised as anyone when I found myself gladly giving up several hours each week to work, unpaid, in a local charity shop.
About a year and a half ago I moved back to my home county of Hertfordshire after 10 years away. I was delighted to be back and building a forever home with my husband; I loved our new house, and our new greener, quieter lifestyle after five years in London.
But lots had changed in the preceding decade, and my mental health had been in a bad way for the best part of a year before the move. I was really struggling, and – despite now having my parents and best friend just down the road – I still felt more isolated than I’d expected. Working from home, as much as I’ve always loved it, didn’t really help matters when I was feeling low.
What did help though, I discovered, was the time I started spending as a volunteer at the Age UK charity shop in Hitchin, where I was immediately made to feel at home by full-time staff Flo and Denice, as well as the friendly team of other volunteers.
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