Four years ago I decided I needed to do something to ease the loneliness of my retirement. I began working one morning a week at a charity shop which soon increased to 2 or 3 Saturday mornings a month as well.

In the week I sort the donated clothes, no clothes are wasted, anything not good enough to sell goes into bags and a 'rag man' comes once a week to buy them off us. He also buys books which aren't good enough to sell. Some clothes are filthy, some smell of smoke, some have holes in them but fortunately most are good enough to steam and hang in the shop.

We get to know the regular customers, some of whom are real characters. One regular customer makes us (and herself) laugh about her lack of direction when driving her car, mainly because she doesn't trust, and therefore ignores, her sat-nav. Another lady talks about the strain of being her husbands carer but mainly a lot of them are lonely.

Books always sell well and jigsaws are popular if the weather forecast is bad. The better the weather the more customers we have.

I haven't looked back since I began volunteering and I would recommend it to anyone who is lonely in retirement.

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