The UK’s leading heart charity is in desperate need of volunteers across Dorset this Christmas to help raise funds for life saving research.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) hopes the people of the Dorset can lend an ‘elfing’ hand this festive season, by volunteering in their local shop.

With Christmas being one of the busiest times of the year, the charity is calling on locals to donate the gift of time – even just for an afternoon. Doing so will help the BHF spread festive cheer and raise funds to transform the lives of those in the South West living with heart and circulatory diseases.

Linda Fenn, Head of Volunteering at the BHF, said: “Volunteering over the Christmas period is a fantastic way to give back to your local community and be part of a fantastic team. You’ll also be helping us to raise vital funds for research into beating heart and circulatory diseases, including heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia. Each year heart and circulatory diseases kill around 16,000 people in the South West and currently 710,000 people in the region are living with these conditions. It’s essential that we continue to accelerate research into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat them. Without the generosity of our shop volunteers we wouldn’t be able to fund much of this life saving work.”

It couldn’t be easier to lend an ‘elfing’ hand to the BHF - just choose a date that works for you, pop into your local branch and arrange the day, sign up and start spreading the festive joy as a BHF elf. What better way could there be to get into the Christmas spirit than supporting a charity whilst sporting a Santa hat and tinsel.

Whether you want to volunteer as a one off, pick up a few festive shifts or explore volunteering longer term, the BHF can help discuss all the available options.

At this busy time of year volunteers will be able to help with a wide range of tasks such as sorting donations, speaking to customers and creating festive window displays. Recent research commissioned by the BHF showed volunteering can improve your mental health and help you overcome loneliness. It can also make a real difference to your CV, help you meet people from all walks of life and most importantly you will be helping the BHF to beat the heartbreak caused by heart and circulatory diseases. After spending his childhood in and out of hospital, one heart patient became charity volunteer to give something back

Daniel, 28, was born with a severe heart defect, known as Tetralogy of Fallot, and was operated on at just one day old, followed by open heart surgery at three years old and again aged seven. Now on the mend following surgery, he has been volunteering at his local British Heart Foundation shop in Bristol for the past year.

He says: “In 2013, at age 22, I was told that I needed open heart surgery, but due to various complications the operation didn’t go ahead until 2017. During that period I developed heart failure - it was a really horrible time. I felt exhausted all of the time, had a swollen stomach and could barely move around at all. I never really noticed just how ill I was until after the surgery, as it had gradually got worse and worse. I later found out that doctors had told my mum that the operation, to replace a heart valve, had to take place or my health would have deteriorated.

“Ever since the surgery I’ve felt like a whole new person – I can even walk around without getting tired. Two years ago I wouldn’t have even been able to get myself to the shop to volunteer. I had become so used to heart palpitations when climbing the stairs that after the surgery I rang up my heart consultant in a panic to ask why my heart wasn’t pumping like before, and they just said ‘No, that’s normal, that’s your heart working normally!’” Daniel chose to volunteer for the BHF in order to give something back: “Research has come on so far since I was little. The recovery time from surgeries when I was a kid used to be huge – I even had to have private tutoring to keep up with school. But after my most recent surgery I was out of hospital very quickly – it was incredible! It’s going to last me about ten years now until I next need surgery, then it will be time for round three!”

“When I started volunteering I was quite nervous to begin with as I hadn’t worked for such a long time, but the shop staff were so welcoming and supportive. I felt like I knew what I was doing just a week after starting! Volunteering has definitely made me more confident, as you’re constantly interacting with people, so that’s really helped. It’s also been really calming - I feel like I can talk about everything now, as I just used to shut myself off. I would really recommend volunteering to anyone, especially those looking to get back into work – it really gets you back on your feet.”

For more information on how to get involved please visit: