To mark Student Volunteering Week, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is appealing to Bath students to lend a hand and help raise funds for life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.
The BHF is hoping to raise awareness of the benefits of volunteering for young people – ranging from improving career prospects to making new friends.
With all volunteer opportunities at the BHF offering flexible hours, students can also choose their shifts to fit around their studies and exams.
Each year, around 14,700 people lose their lives to heart and circulatory diseases in the South West.
Volunteering can be a great way to show your support for your local community, whilst also learning lifelong skills.
With many young people seeing volunteering as a stepping stone towards formal employment, charity work can double up as invaluable work experience for those thinking about the future.
Linda Fenn, Head of Volunteering at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Volunteering has a reputation problem that we urgently need to address. Far too many people assume that it’s just for older people and that it might not benefit them, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Young people have so much to gain from getting involved, helping them learn new things, improve their health and wellbeing, and make lifelong friends.
“Amid growing awareness of the importance of good mental health, we hope we can encourage people to give volunteering a go.
“Here at the BHF we have a multitude of varied roles on offer, so there really is something for everyone. Whether you would like to join a fundraising group and be involved in community-based activities or gain retail experience on a busy shop floor, simply visit our website to find out more.”
According to a survey commissioned by the BHF last year, three-quarters of 16-24-year-old volunteers say giving up their time helped them learn new skills (74%) and just over 7 in 10 said it improved their employability (72%).
Volunteers play a vital role at the BHF, contributing to the £30 million raised by its shops and stores each year.
Without the support of volunteers across the UK, the charity could not continue to fund research into life-saving treatments for the 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases.
Jordan, 21, from Bath, first started volunteering at his local British Heart Foundation shop in order to gain work experience and improve his customer service skills.
After struggling to find work when he finished college, Jordan felt that volunteering was a great opportunity to improve his skillset and career prospects.
After six months of working the till and listing items on the BHF eBay page each day, a paid role became available at the shop and he applied straight away.
Since being offered the role, Jordan has learnt plenty of new skills and loves being able to support volunteers who might be on a similar journey, as well as benefiting from training and the chance to improve his retail knowledge.
Not only has his time at the BHF helped him find a job, but Jordan also really enjoys day to day life in the shop. He said: “We’re always having a laugh here. It’s a great atmosphere and can be really sociable with so many regulars popping in each day.”
When asked if he’d recommend volunteering to friends Jordan said: “definitely – it gives you the skills you need to find your first job, and if you’re lucky like me you can progress and get a job at the shop itself!”
To get involved in volunteering at the BHF, visit: bhf.org.uk/volunteer.