Graeme takes a good look at the benchtop grill in front of him. At first glance it looks fine – there are no cracks, no exposed wires at the plug, and no duct tape covering a break in the power cord.
But that’s only the first visual check. Graeme, who tests electrical goods for Mary Potter Hospice, will now plug it into a PAT (portable appliance tester) to check for any electrical faults. Good news, the grill gets a pass – but one of only about half the appliances this time – and it will be now be tagged and certified by Graeme for sale in Hospice Shops.
Every electrical appliance sold in Mary Potter Hospice Shops is tested and tagged as safe to use by a team of specially trained testers – all volunteers. Graeme, who is a semi-retired insurance broker, has been a volunteer tester for four years. On Thursdays he works in the warehouse behind the Mary Potter Hospice Shop in Porirua.
His work follows the seasons and the fashions – the Christmas tree lights start selling from November and the electric heaters once the weather cools down. There are always plenty of blenders and juicers – evidence Graeme supposes of a health kick that didn’t last. “There was a time when we couldn’t give them away. Every store had a stockpile,” he says. But the need for the basics doesn’t change. “We could do with more irons, jugs and toasters.”
Graeme tests appliances small and big, including train sets and slot cars, and fridges and washing machines. Sometimes, if the trucks are short-handed, he will go out to collect goods.
Mary Potter Hospice opened its first Hospice Shop in Kilbirnie in 2000. There are now eight op shops located in Miramar, Cuba Street, Karori, Thorndon, Newlands, Tawa, Porirua and Paraparaumu. The stores offer a huge variety of quality pre-loved goods and are staffed by 300 retail volunteers, who pick up, test, sort and sell donated items instore or online. The shops provide the Hospice with one of its main sources of income – nearly $2m last year.
To find out more about volunteering at Mary Potter Hospice please click here.