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The Buzz > Volunteers across Scotland are giving their time to do amazing things

Volunteers across Scotland are giving their time to do amazing things

Andrea is a woman wearing a yellow checked jacket and black jeans standing in front of shelves in a charity shop.

Without our army of volunteers, we would be lost.

That's why we're saying a huge thank you to those who give up their time to support the vulnerable and keep the tills ringing in our shops.

Fran loves every minute of volunteering.

Giving your time makes such a difference

As she approaches her 84th birthday in April this year, Fran Garioch could be forgiven for thinking it might be time to give up her charity work.

But there’s no chance of Fran quitting her one day a week in the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland boutique in Cults,
Aberdeenshire, even if she does have to get a taxi there and back.

Fran, who lives in Bucksburn, Aberdeen, says: “I love my time in the shop, it’s so lovely. We have a great team and such camaraderie, so much laughter. I’ve been coming to this shop for nine years and I’ll be here for a long time yet!”

Fran spends every Wednesday in the store. And when she’s not helping sort out the bric-a-brac donated to the store, she’s walking her dog, Luca, a Westie-papillon cross and dishing up dinner for visiting family.

She says: “I’ve made so many friends since I started volunteering. I love every minute of it. I say to everyone, if you have time, volunteer and help someone who needs it. All you’re giving is your time, but it makes such a difference to people and to charities who all badly need help.”

Abi has an interest in language and speech therapy.

Speaking their language

An interest in speech and language led Abi Thomson to a volunteer role with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. Now
she is one of our team of dedicated volunteers who give up their time regularly to help people living with chest, heart and stroke conditions.

Abi was paired with a stroke survivor who needs help improving her handwriting, and they have a weekly 30 minute video call in which Abi offers support and encouragement.

The 26-year-old, who is originally from Aboyne in Aberdeenshire and now lives in London, says her experience of volunteering has been motivating and heartwarming.

Abi, an international project manager for a climate communication organisation, says: “I studied Chinese and
French at university and became intrigued by speech therapy. When I reached out to a speech therapist for some
advice, she recommended volunteering with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.

“I’ve been volunteering for a year now and it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I really enjoy getting to know people. They let me see the world through someone else’s eyes and broaden my experience of life.”

Teenager Jake says volunteering in his local shop has improved his confidence.

Teen dream

When Jake Macdonald, first decided to volunteer his time for charity, he thought it would be something he could do for a few weeks that would look good on his CV.

Now, more than a year on, Jake is so delighted to be part of the volunteer team in his local Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland shop in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, that he’s almost there full-time.

Jake, 18, says: “I love every minute in the shop. It’s been the very best thing I could possibly have done, and I just love coming in here to meet the other volunteers and all the customers.”

Jake had been working as a chef in a restaurant in his hometown of Bothwell. He decided to change his path and look for something new. Encouraged by his parents to volunteer until he could find a more permanent position, Jake pitched up at the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland shop.

He says: “I didn’t really know anything about retail before I joined, but now I can do everything that’s needed. I get so much out of being a volunteer. From my experience, it has helped my confidence more than anything.”

Andrea popped in to her local boutique to do some shopping - and left as a volunteer!

On the button

Andrea Meany only popped into her local Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland boutique because she spotted a lovely jacket in the window. But not only did Andrea leave the shop with the jacket, she also left as its newest volunteer.

Three years on, Andrea gives up her time twice a week to help in the Banchory store and raise crucial funds
for the charity.

Andrea, 61, who lives in Banchory with husband Nigel, says: “I love my time in the shop, but even I was taken
by surprise that I volunteered when all I wanted to do was try on a jacket!

“I love how much my confidence has been boosted by volunteering.

“And yes, I bought the jacket and it’s still hanging in my wardrobe. We get such beautiful clothes donated that I keep joking I can’t afford to keep volunteering there.”

A stroke changed Kenny's life forever - in a positive way.

Weight to go

There aren’t many people who will say that a stroke is the best thing that ever happened to them. But not many people are like Kenny Hill.

The 44-year-old taxi driver was just 38 and weighed around 25 stones when he had a stroke. The stroke specialist
who treated him asked him about his goals and whether he wanted to be around to walk his daughter Abbie, then just 14, down the aisle.

Kenny, who is married to Tracy and lives in Hamilton, says: “That changed everything for me. It was the lightbulb moment I needed. From that moment on, I knew I had to do something radical and that was losing weight and
finding fitness.

“People often sympathise with me when I say I had a stroke. I tell them it was the best thing that ever happened to me because if I hadn’t had it, who knows if I would still be here?”

Last year Kenny, having shed a total of 17 stones, completed an incredible Ironman challenge to raise more than
£1,600 for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. He has qualified as a personal trainer and is focusing on that this year, but he’s also giving his time to Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland as a volunteer in the hope of helping men going through the same thing.

He says: “I felt very down and lost after my stroke, but all the GP wanted to do was put me on antidepressants. I didn’t need medication, I needed a new focus, which is what I got from weight loss and fitness.

“I went to the help groups, but they didn’t do anything for me because everyone was so much older. There was no-one I could relate to. I think I could be a good help to men going through the same thing.”

Sam began volunteering when her business was put on hold during lockdown.

Job for life

When Covid-19 struck the UK in 2020 and the nation went into lockdown, Sam Saxby was among millions of us suddenly stuck at home with nothing to do and lots of time to do it in.

Sam, 53, owns a catering business that serves the backstage artists at Scotland’s biggest music venues. With all gigs cancelled and staff furloughed, Sam decided she needed to do something positive and signed up as a Kindness Volunteer with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.

Sam, who is originally from Yorkshire but has lived in Govanhill in Glasgow for more than 20 years, says: “The pandemic got me into volunteering in the first place. While I was furloughed, I treated volunteering as my job, and it was hugely worthwhile.”

As life begins to return to normal and Sam’s back in business at gigs across the Central Belt, she’s determined
to continue to make time for those who need it most, saying: “Yes, it can be hard to juggle everything, but I feel I
have to keep this connection. Volunteering can take a bit of effort, but you never regret doing it, ever.”

To find out more about our volunteering opportunities and join our army of incredible volunteers, visit chss.org.uk/volunteering

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