Charity shops in Bala may become extinct as the last one there struggles to recruit volunteers.

Tenovus Cancer Care say the cost-of-living crisis is impacting people's availability to volunteer. One volunteer for Bala, Anthony, donates six days a week to keep the shop running.

Bala assistant shop manager Nia Hughes, said: “We are never short of donations, but we really struggle to find volunteers.

“We have some brilliant volunteers, including Anthony, who goes above and beyond but he can’t go on much longer. He needs a break!

“Ideally, we need up to 19 new volunteers, but any extra would help massively. I’d urge people of Bala and surrounding areas to consider giving some time for such a great cause.”

The cost-of-living crisis is impacting charities not just in Gwynedd but across the UK.

A 2023 survey found one-third of UK volunteers had to reduce their hours to pick up extra paid work or to meet additional demands at home.

Tenovus’ shops bring in 78 per cent of the charity’s overall income, whilst also being central to getting out their campaign messages and raising awareness of their support services in Wales.

Barmouth Tenovus Cancer Care shop manager Sandra Williams with volunteers Monica Jones and Jude
Barmouth Tenovus Cancer Care shop manager Sandra Williams with volunteers Monica Jones and Jude (Tenovus Cancer Care)

Staff at the busy Tenovus Barmouth branch are also concerned that they won’t be able to cope as they ramp up to tourist season. Some volunteers are ageing out of the service whilst struggling to backfill replacements.

Shop manager Sandra Williams said: “We are bracing ourselves for the busiest time of the year.

“I have been a shop manager here for 20 years but the wonderful volunteers I started with are retiring, and we are sadly struggling to find replacements.

“More people need to do paid work these days, and don’t have as much time to volunteer, but that has a real knock-on effect for us.”

Monica Jones, 25, began volunteering at Barmouth five years ago after her Nan passed away from oesophageal cancer.

She donates her hours around her cleaning work: “It broke my heart when Nan died from cancer, and I wanted to do something to give back.

“I had a health condition when I was younger, which meant I missed a lot of school, and I was also bullied. Being at such a lovely shop with such supportive and friendly people has boosted my confidence no end.”

Out of Tenovus’ 56 shops in the country, only 17 per cent are operating at full capacity of 80 hours per week.

To volunteer, email [email protected]