Ross and The British Heart Foundation

30 August 2013

270,000 people in Scotland live with heart disease but volunteers are helping improve their wellbeing.

Ross Porter (16), a pupil at Eastwood High School, volunteered with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland’s Furniture and Electrical Store in Stockwell Street, Glasgow for a year. Recently he has turned to what he describes as more ‘proactive’ volunteering with his local Fundraising Volunteer Manager, Carole Nicol.

Ross first encountered BHF Scotland during a placement at Glasgow University’s BHF-funded Cardiovascular Research Centre. He says: “After seeing just one of the many places the charity’s money goes to, I was committed to help raise funds in any way I could. I want to help change people’s lives and, if spending a few hours a week raising funds helps nurses, doctors, surgeons, patients and researchers, then it is all worth it.”

As well as organising his own fundraising events, Ross has been helping with collections and volunteering at health information stands at local events. 

“This style of volunteering suits me as I can interact with different people throughout the day. You really do feel as if you are helping every single person you speak to. As I’m still at school Carole understands that I need to prioritise my schoolwork. Sometimes I spend up to seven hours at an event and others only one or two. It really is all dependent on the amount of time that I can spare, and volunteering with BHF Scotland gives me great flexibility" -Ross, BHF volunteer

Volunteering can help people stay physically active, depending on what is done. Moving stock or stretching to arrange shelves in a BHF Scotland Shop, or walking around at a BHF Scotland event, as well as other volunteering opportunities, can do wonders for a sense of wellbeing. People who volunteer report an experience known as the ‘helpers high’. This is a rush of euphoria, similar to the one experienced after physical activity and, once the initial rush is over, people are left with a lasting sense of calm. This feeling can return hours or even days later when volunteers think about what they have done.

People who take up voluntary work often feel a greater sense of purpose, and it gives them the opportunity to use some of the skills they already have or even learn a new skill.

For anyone recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery, volunteering is a good way of slowly getting back into activity before returning to work and BHF Scotland will have a role to suit everyone.

There are many local volunteer opportunities available. BHF Scotland has lots of different roles to suit the time people can give, from a few hours in a local BHF Scotland Shop or Furniture and Electrical store, to putting on a fundraising event to raising some money for the charity. Volunteers could become campaigners and help to deliver better heart health services in their community. Any amount of time will really make a difference to the charity.

“BHF volunteers give a contribution of time that accounts for £40m of our income every year. But their impact goes far beyond money. Without their support we simply wouldn’t be able to do the life-saving work that helps thousands of people living with heart and circulatory disease each year. Just a few hours of your time can really help so please consider volunteering for BHF Scotland and sign up today.” -Carole Nicol, BHF

Find out more about volunteering with the British Heart Foundation in Scotland

Source: BHF Health Promotion Research Group (2012) Coronary Heart Disease Statistics in Scotland