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Dheeraj develops new life skills as a St Luke’s volunteer

When Dheeraj Kakade decided that he wanted to gain some charity volunteering experience, he didn’t have to travel any further than the foot of his stairs.

For when we launched our new city centre concept store at the Moor last summer, Dheeraj was living in an apartment on the floors above.

And even now he’s moved from the city centre and into the suburbs, he’s still only a brisk walk away from his volunteering duties on the busy St Luke’s shop floor and in the stockroom.

Dheeraj, who is a graduate in Engineering with the University of Mumbai in India, came to South Yorkshire and the University of Sheffield to continue his studies.

And he decided that a good way to gain a greater understanding of his new home city and its people would be to volunteer.

“That was when I came across the news of the new store opening at The Moor, conveniently located just beneath my residence,” he says.

“Sheffield is known for being a student friendly city so I was really happy when I got an offer from the university but I felt I needed something to add to the experience.

“I have spent my whole life in India so moving to a new place in another part of the world, I definitely knew there was room to work on my self confidence and self esteem and volunteering was one of the ways I felt I could do that.

“Back at home I had volunteered by going a beach clean up activity and feeding stray dogs and I know how important it is to feel you are giving something back.”

That’s why Dheeraj is now supporting St Luke’s as we prepare for the 2024 Big Help Out, the national campaign to get more people volunteering.

Even though the Big Help Out runs from just June 7 to 9, we are using that weekend as a launchpad for a full month of promoting the many volunteering opportunities that are available with us.

And Dheeraj is happy to explain how volunteering at The Moor has brought so much into his life.

“What I am most grateful for is the freedom and variety of work that I am doing here,” he says.

“I do a range of activities from steaming and sorting clothes, sorting housewares, preparing things for sale and then also taking part in extensive customer care and being on the till - I don’t think there is anything I haven’t done!”

Dheeraj enjoys being part of the team so much that he even competed in the recent Sheffield Half Marathon, proudly wearing the St Luke’s colours.

“I definitely enjoy every minute of my time with St Luke’s because I am someone who is always curious to try new things and when I say that I found the need to develop my self esteem and self confidence, St Luke’s was the perfect match,” he says.

“Giving back to society was my first priority but learning from the things I have experienced here  - gaining extensive experience and meeting new people - is something that every international student should look for because it really makes you feel good.

“I have to admit too that when I’m steaming clothes I get time to reflect on the whole week so that’s a good time for me.”

After eight months of volunteering, Dheeraj also hopes that his experience will provide him with valuable assistance as he embarks on the next stage of his career plan.

“I’ve gained exposure to UK culture and I have made new connections,” he explains.

“My communication skills have been refined through various interactions and presentations, enabling me to interact effectively with customers, colleagues and management.

“The managerial skills I’ve developed can aid in organising and coordinating tasks within the store environment, while my financial acumen can contribute to budgeting and resource management efforts.

“Learning new things keeps you refreshed throughout your life - and I have learnt many things volunteering with St Luke’s.

“St Luke’s is like family to me and being there is something I look forward to every week.”

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at St Luke’s Hospice visit volunteer

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