In April 2021, we opened our first community-based charity shop, at Crossgates Shopping Centre.

Janette Songhurst, who lives just ten minutes’ walk away from the shop, was one of our first volunteers to welcome new customers to the store during its opening week.

Since then, Janette has dedicated over 150 hours to volunteering at the Crossgates store, raising much-needed funds to support NHS staff, patients, and families.

The 43-year-old has been a patient at Chapel Allerton Hospital, one of eight local NHS hospitals supported by our charity, for over a decade.

Janette suffers from severe psoriasis, a skin condition that can cause red, flaky, crusty patches of skin and other health complications. To manage the aggressiveness of her condition, Janette has to take immunosuppressants twice a month.

After over twenty years of teaching, Janette took the decision to leave her job after struggling with her skin, she wants people to realise that psoriasis is more than just ‘itchy skin’:

“People often underestimate the impact that psoriasis has on your daily life. I’ve developed psoriatic arthritis in my joints, and it’s also caused inflammation to my internal organs. I’ve been in and out of hospital over the years, and once spent almost two months in hospital. I’m so grateful to the staff who have continued to care for me.”

During the height of the pandemic, Janette had to shield for 17 weeks, spending long days alone at home while her husband Mark was at work.

Janette jumped at the chance to volunteer at the new Leeds Hospitals Charity shop when she saw an advertisement on one of her hospital visits:

 “I felt useless when I was sat at home, I’ve volunteered with several local organisations before, and it gave me so much joy – that was all taken away from me in the pandemic. I love volunteering in the shop, the team are so understanding, and I can manage my shifts around my hospital appointments. I’m so glad to be back out there meeting people and making new friends, I especially love when the little ones come into the shop and seeing their faces light up at all the toys!”

If like Janette, you want to give something back to your local NHS hospitals, you can apply to volunteer in Leeds Hospitals Charity’s Crossgates or Merrion charity shops.

Volunteer in our charity shops