A day in the life of a retail van driver

Take a tour around Swindon with Darren, one of our van drivers

Hi, I’m Darren, one of Prospect Hospice’s retail van drivers. I’ve been working at the hospice for about thirteen years – and every day is different!


I arrive at the Distribution Centre and load up the van with items to take to our shops in Highworth, Cricklade, and Clive Parade. Throughout the day, I’ll also go to our shops in Penhill, Abbey Meads, Cavendish Square, and Regent Street. These are the shops I cover, while our other driver Kevin goes to Wroughton, Old Town, Marlborough, Pewsey, Taw Hill, Royal Wootton Bassett, and West Swindon. We both have volunteers that come with us on different days.


We (myself and a volunteer) arrive at our Highworth shop and drop off the boxes of items they have requested. The shop manager has also collected some items for us to take over to our Clive Parade shop, as they haven’t sold so far in Highworth – including a brand new doll’s house.


We arrive at our Cricklade shop, and unload the boxes from the Distribution Centre. They also have some items for us to take to Clive Parade. Rachel, the manager at Cricklade, offers us a cup of tea so we have a chat with her and one of their volunteers.


After leaving Cricklade at 9.30am, we arrive at Clive Parade, where we unload all of the items from the Distribution Centre, as well as those collected by our Highworth and Cricklade shops to see if they’ll have more success selling here. We also load up the van with items to take back to the Distribution Centre – mostly things that haven’t sold, which our sorters will go through.


Leave Clive Parade to head back to the Distribution Centre in Wroughton.


We arrive back at the Distribution Centre and the team have put the kettle on – it would be rude not to join them for a cup of coffee!


It takes some time to unload the van with everything from Highworth, Cricklade, and Clive Parade – there’s a mix of unsold goods and rubbish for us to get rid of like cardboard boxes. While we’re doing this, we plan which shop to go to next and what we’ll be taking.


We load the van back up items to take to our Abbey Mead and Penhill shops. Penhill have asked for more puzzles, and both shops need women’s winter clothing as the summer comes to an end.


We arrive at our Abbey Meads shop and drop off some bags of clothing. They also have some items for us to take back to the Distribution Centre to be re-sorted.


After a short drive from Abbey Meads, we get to our Penhill shop. We deliver the puzzles and clothing, and take away some unsold items.


When we get back to the Distribution Centre, we unload everything from Penhill and Abbey Meads.


Lunch time! We have a few fold-up picnic chairs for sunny days like today, so me and the volunteer I’m with today take them and sit outside to have lunch in the sun.


We load up the van with items for our newest shop, Cavendish Square. Things have been flying off the shelves there, so they need some more stock of clothes, books, and games.


We get to Cavendish Square and unload all of the new stock. It’s also a nice chance to have a chat with Melissa, the shop manager, about how the shop has been doing since it opened a month ago. They also have some unsold items for us to take back to be re-sorted and re-distributed.


We leave Cavendish Square, and head back to the Distribution Centre.


When we arrive back at the Distribution Centre, we unload the items from Cavendish Square, and then load it back up with new items to go to our shop on Regent Street in Swindon town centre.


We arrive at our Regent Street shop and drop off the new items. There are also some rag bags for us to collect – donations of items of clothing that are damaged or unsellable.


We get back to the Distribution Centre and unload the bags from Regent Street.


The last hour of the day is spent doing some final unloading and sorting. Kevin arrives back at the Distribution Centre so I help him to unload his last few items. The sorters have also asked us to help with getting some things ready for a pop-up shop at the Arkell’s Brewery 180th Birthday celebrations this weekend.


Finally, I have a chat with Ali, our retail administration coordinator, and Barbara, our sorting supervisor, about what needs delivering tomorrow. We’ve started doing deliveries to shops every day, Monday to Friday, so we need to be prepared, knowing what to take to each shop on each day, so that they get the right stock.


I leave the Distribution Centre and head home.


Please note that this ‘a day in the life’ piece was written in early September 2023, so some of the events mentioned may have already taken place. Check our events calendar for more information.