Thursday, 23 May 2024
Thursday, 23 May 2024

The volunteer who planned to stay two weeks, celebrates 24 years as a BHF manager

BRITISH Heart Foundation (BHF) shop manager, Jojo Mills, was inspired to join the BHF as a volunteer, intending to stay for two weeks. She has now been a valued team member for 24 years, currently working in a paid role as a shop manager and receiving a Long Service Award for her work.  

A congenital heart patient, Jojo had open heart surgery at five years old. The support she received from the BHF at the time inspired her to volunteer at her local BHF shop, volunteering for a few hours a week. Although Jojo only intended to stay for a couple of weeks, she was offered a paid position after six months. She has now been a BHF shop manager for 17 years.

Jojo, now aged 47, lives in the Greater London area and manages the Hornchurch BHF shop. Jojo’s grandmother, who had a triple bypass heart surgery at 77 and passed away from heart failure at 84, was a holocaust survivor who came to the UK on the Kindertransport. Her family in Germany ran a preloved shop and Jojo is proud to be continuing this family tradition by working at the BHF. 

40 years after her heart surgery, Jojo is now urging others to volunteer for the BHF. Jojo said:

“The BHF has always been an inclusive place to work – as a congenital heart patient it was difficult for me to secure a job in 1998. Volunteering at the BHF helped me to build my confidence and shaped me as a person. It helped me grow from a shy 20-year-old to a store manager and I would love to do it all over again.

The volunteer who planned to stay two weeks, celebrates 24 years as a BHF manager
Jojo as a child.

“I try to make sure the BHF is an inclusive and flexible place for my own volunteers, which includes a young army officer and a university student. My volunteers can fit hours in around their commitments, whenever they have some spare time during their holidays.”

Jojo is sharing her story as the BHF releases its new volunteering strategy, striving to make volunteering easy, flexible, and inclusive for all. The charity has also set a target that by 2025, a minimum of 25% of all paid vacancies across the organisation will be filled by people who have previously volunteered with the BHF – so that volunteers like Jojo can have opportunities to join our paid teams.

The work of volunteers helps to fund more than £100m of lifesaving science every year. The BHF will be introducing a volunteer panel to help gather their insights and involving volunteers in all directorates across the BHF. Digital platforms will be embedded with accessibility tools including alternative language options and support for volunteers with disabilities, empowering volunteers to feel valued and part of the BHF.

Volunteer roles at BHF support the charity to fund its lifesaving research into heart and circulatory diseases. Volunteers will receive a warm welcome to any in-store role and there is also a range of flexible roles that can be carried out at home, from your sofa – whether it be in the retail team, fundraising, corporate volunteering or the BHF Action Team.

Linda Fenn, Head of Volunteering at the BHF said:

“Our exciting new strategy strives to make volunteering easy, flexible, and inclusive to everyone. Whether you have an hour to donate occasionally, are given employer-supported volunteer days, are a business wanting to develop your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, or if you would love a more regular commitment, we have volunteer opportunities to suit everyone.

“We want all our volunteers, like Jojo, to have an incredible experience at the BHF. Every hour volunteered is truly valued and helps make a real difference to the BHF and those impacted by heart and circulatory diseases.”

To learn more about volunteering or view the new volunteer strategy, please visit: bhf.org.uk/how-you-can-help/volunteer. 

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