British Heart Foundation, the UK’s largest charity retailer, is urgently calling for volunteers after losing 2,500 during the pandemic.
According to the BHF, 17,000 volunteers support the its charity shops every year. Losing 2,500 volunteers means the charity is operating with 20% fewer volunteer hours than before the pandemic.
BHF has 712 charity shops across the UK, but without the volunteers to staff them, will face having to reduce opening hours during the busiest time of the year. In turn, this would reduce funds raised for the charity, which goes towards researching heart and circulatory diseases.
The impact of the pandemic was widely felt across the high street and charity shops were no exception. With shops forced to close, BHF lost £41.1m and had to downsize by 21 shops.
Though the BHF took “record-breaking” takings on the first day its stores reopened, reduced footfall on the high streets meant these profits have not been sustained.
Operation Elf recruitment campaign
To combat its volunteer shortage, the charity has launched its Operation Elf recruitment drive which encourages the public to donate their time by volunteering with BHF this Christmas.
Sarah Boardman, retail volunteering operations manager, at the BHF, said: “Volunteers are our life-blood […] We simply cannot operate our shops and stores without their generous support.
“Currently, our volunteering hours are down 20% compared to pre-Covid and we have on average 2,500 fewer volunteers each week supporting our shops and stores. This Christmas we’re asking the British public to donate to us the gift of time and give whatever hours they can.”
BHF emphasised the transferable skills that can be gained through volunteering. Volunteers can gain experience in logistical administration, operating tills, merchandising on the shop floor and answering customer queries. The BHF offers voluntary shifts as a stock collection driver, stock generators and recruiters.
The charity also offers online roles, where volunteers can research, photograph and list items for sale on BHF’s online shops.
Boardman added: “You can commit just a few hours each week or a few days.
“Volunteering at the BHF is a great opportunity to meet new people, boost your confidence, gain retail experience and help us give unwanted items a new lease of life. Every hour given will help us raise funds to support those living with heart and circulatory diseases.”
To find out more about volunteering with BHF, visit https://www.bhf.org.uk/how-you-can-help/volunteer/volunteer-in-our-shops.