From checking for missing puzzle pieces to volunteering and learning new skills in our Tonbridge shop – read Edie and Finty’s feel-good volunteering story!

“Edie and Finty, our 16 year old identical twin daughters, have autism and epilepsy likely caused by a rare chromosome deletion. Our girls have always loved visiting charity shops, mainly to buy jigsaw puzzles, which are their favourite hobby. In the August summer holidays 2023, we asked the lovely staff in Tonbridge Demelza if it would be helpful to check any of the children’s puzzles and mark them as ‘complete’. We have found over the years that about 50% of secondhand jigsaws have pieces missing, which can be frustrating.

After a few weeks of helping with this little job, the girls were offered the chance to become volunteers and because they are currently in a post-16 year group at their SEN school, they are able to be absent from their weekly timetable in order to volunteer one day a week. As parents, we both take turns to chaperone our daughters due to their epilepsy. We didn’t expect volunteering as a family to be so enormously rewarding.

It is so important for many life skills, namely working with money, learning to cope around customers and importantly having fun! We have been so welcomed by Teresa and all of the Tonbridge Demelza staff, and we honestly can’t thank them enough for giving us a chance to all realise how helpful our girls can be!

We are extremely grateful to Demelza for being advocates of people with difficulties that might usually feel they are not wanted as volunteers. Long may the friendship with our local shop continue, thank you everyone.”

- Debbie and Adam, parents of Edie and Finty

Find out more about our volunteering opportunities