Shop managers of Cancer Research UK’s Keswick and Penrith stores have launched an urgent appeal for volunteers.
While stock donations increased immediately after lockdown, the number of volunteers returning plummeted by nearly half in some shops.
The situation has prompted a nationwide call for help as the charity battles to claw back millions of pounds in lost income and get life-saving research back on track.
Last year Cancer Research UK shops in England raised more than £75 million.
But shop closures and event cancellations means the charity is expecting a £160 million drop in income across the UK in the year ahead.
Marzena Harris, manager at the Penrith Cancer Research UK shop, said: “We’re very lucky to have a great team in Penrith but sadly not all our volunteers have been able to return, largely due to health reasons.
“After the first lockdown eased, many shops were operating with only half the usual number of volunteers.
“The situation has improved a little since then but we’re still 30 per cent down on volunteer numbers. That’s why we’re appealing to anyone who can to give the gift of their time this winter.
“Our shop volunteers are like family to us so it was heart-breaking to close our doors and stay at home during lockdown. I can’t stress enough how vital these volunteers are.
“Without their help, we simply would not be able to fund our outstanding doctors, nurses and scientists.”
Cancer Research UK currently funds around 50 per cent of all cancer research in the UK.
However, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the charity expects to see its fundraising income decline by up to 30 per cent in the financial year ahead – putting this research at risk.
There are lots of different jobs people can help with in stores from sorting donated stock, steaming and labelling clothing to serving at the till.
Marzena added: “No experience is necessary to apply, just motivation and the desire to be part of a team.
“Many volunteers come in just one morning or afternoon a week, or sometimes just help over the busy lunchtime period.
“A few hours can make a huge difference and it can be a great way of adding to your CV. No matter how much time a person can give or what their experience, we are urging people to get in touch.
“Our feedback shows that volunteers tend to smile more, feel less stressed and more useful and generally more positive about having found a new purpose in life.
“There’s a real sense of camaraderie and all pulling together for one reason – to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”
To sign up or to find out more about volunteering, visit: cancerresearchuk.org/shopvol