'Some people are lonely and SVP volunteers are only ones they talk to'
A charity shop manager has revealed how her job is more than just raising funds for services.
St Vincent de Paul's Carol Ryan said her store in Coolock, north Dublin, is also a focal point for the community.
"When I'm training people in, I tell them it's not all about what we sell. It is an opportunity for people to meet and greet each other," she said.
"It's important that we give them the time when they come in, because some people are lonely and we are the only ones they talk to.
"A lot of people also contact us looking for help from the society, so we pass their details on to our head office. We try to help in any way that we can."
The SVP's 180 shops raise much-needed funds for services nationwide.
The store in Coolock village opened five years ago and has 40 volunteers of all ages and nationalities working there.
"We have become a meeting point in the area," Carol continued.
"We get great support from the community and good-quality donations."
As well as offering a friendly face, they help customers find everything from toys and fashion items to practical needs, like a second-hand buggy.
"We have a customer appreciation day each month where we sell new stock to our customers and we provide refreshments on the day," added Carol.
"It's a way of giving back to our customers, and every time we have one there is a queue out the door.
"Some people say, 'what did we do before this shop was here', which is fantastic," Carol said.
How to donate
1. Go to www.svp.ie or give locally.
2. By cheque: To SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1, made payable to Society of St Vincent de Paul National Council, or direct to a regional office. Addresses can be found on www.svp.ie.
3. Pay direct to Bank of Ireland, Phibsborough, Dublin 7 to St Vincent De Paul Council of Ireland.
A/C Number: 80005599. Sort Code: 90-06-23.
4. Call the SVP National Office on 01 838 6990.
In addition to making donations directly, there's an array of options to support the SVP at www.svp.ie/ appeal.
These include a virtual gift store on www.svp.ie/giftstore.