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News > Volunteering opens up the door for Joe’s new retail career

Volunteering opens up the door for Joe’s new retail career

A job in retail is not quite where Joe Baxendale expected to be after a lifetime working in transport. But a volunteering role with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland opened up a whole new world to the dad of two.

Joe, 53, had been a volunteer in the charity’s Portobello store since 2019 before joining as an assistant manager at the Newington shop in Edinburgh earlier this year.

Giving back

Joe had suffered two heart attacks in 2009 and had a pacemaker fitted. At the time, he got support from CHSS to get back on his feet. Then, in early 2019, he spent almost a month in hospital after a bacterial bug attached itself to the pacemaker.

After recovering from that, Joe decided to volunteer with CHSS to give something back to the charity.

He says: “I was volunteering in the Portobello shop right up until lockdown. My wife is a nurse but has a couple of serious medical conditions, so she was shielding and that meant when the shop reopened, I wasn’t able to return right away.

“But in November 2021 I was able to go back into the shop to volunteer. My son was born earlier this year, so I had some time off, and when I returned, the shop manager said there was a job coming up in Newington and was I interested in it. And here I am!

“I’m totally enjoying it. It’s busy and is only supposed to be one day a week, but you know how that goes! I’ve been helping cover at the Stockbridge shop, too.”

A change in career

Joe had spent his working life in the transport industry, doing everything from driving a bus to vehicle recovery and restoration. Latterly he ran a restoration business in Fife to reupholster old buses.

When lockdown happened, the business couldn’t operate as normal. As Joe puts it, “between my bank and my doctor”, he decided it was best if he retired and he sold the business to three of the colleagues who had worked with him.

Now he’s enjoying his new career in retail, saying: “The best thing in all of this for me is the banter with the customers and the other staff and volunteers. I’m learning all the time – refunds are still tricky!”

People make volunteering.

“It’s not the first time I’ve done a refund for a customer only to realise I’ve actually charged them a second time! But I’m getting quicker at recognising when I’ve made a mistake, and people are generally very understanding.

“People make volunteering. When you’re coming into a positive atmosphere, it makes such a difference to everyone. That’s what I’m aiming to do here. Create a jolly, happy atmosphere that customers and volunteers want to come into.”

He says: “Retail is not where I would have expected to be, but I’ve learned a lot, mostly about how to deal with customers! I had one lady tell me she would come back to the shop because I was funny, so that’s something.

“I can cycle to work every day, so I’m getting fit and getting paid and I’m giving something back to the charity – it’s all good for me.”

To find out more about volunteering in your local Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland shop, please visit:

People are leaving hospital feeling scared and alone. You can change that.

Your donation can help people do more than just survive – you can help them really live.


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