Give the gift of time this Christmas - James Jopling

The countdown to Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for our British Heart Foundation (BHF) shops across Scotland. It really is a case of all hands on deck and I recently had the pleasure of helping out our team in our Leith store, as part of our Operation Elf recruitment drive.

James Jopling, Head of Scotland BHF and store manager Colette Farrington outside the store on Byres Road, Glasgow.
James Jopling, Head of Scotland BHF and store manager Colette Farrington outside the store on Byres Road, Glasgow.

Operation Elf is our annual campaign urging people to give the gift of time during the festive season, by volunteering in one of BHF Scotland’s 76 shops. The amount of work to keep both the front of store running as well as the sorting, pricing and display of donated goods for our customers to buy is remarkable. And, it is all done by a very small team of hugely committed people.

But this year, we need help for more than just the Christmas rush. Sadly, since the pandemic began we have seen our volunteer numbers fall. Despite strong sales across our shops since reopening after lockdown, here in Scotland we have lost around 16% of the hours our volunteers so kindly donate to us each week – that’s around 250 fewer people volunteering. It is a trend replicated in our shops across the UK.

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It goes without saying that volunteers are the lifeblood of our shops. Every hour donated makes a difference. It helps us raise money to power life saving science to save and improve lives. Across Scotland around 700,000 people are living with heart and circulatory diseases. Your gift of time can help us, help them. 

And so, this Christmas we are asking you to please consider donating the gift of time to BHF Scotland. Perhaps you could make it your New Year’s resolution to come and join us?

Heart disease is a major cause of ill health in Scotland and coronary heart disease remains Scotland’s biggest killer. But we have bold ambitions for the future and with the generous support of the public, we are funding ground-breaking research to get us closer to a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory disease.

And our volunteers and shop teams have a vital role to play in helping us achieve our ambitions.

Becoming a volunteer couldn’t be easier. You can commit just a few hours each week or a few days. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, boost your confidence, gain retail experience and help us give unwanted items a new lease of life. Coming out of the pandemic, so many more of us have a keen sense of the importance of our local communities and volunteering with us is a great chance to be part of yours.

There are plenty of roles available for those looking to support their local community, improve their wellbeing and widen their social network – all the while supporting the BHF’s life saving research and helping the environment at the same time. This year across the UK, the BHF will save around 71,000 tonnes of goods from going to waste, by selling over half a million pieces of living room furniture and 14,000 tonnes of preloved clothes from our stores.

You can get involved in tasks such as operating tills, helping on the shop floor and answering customer queries. We also offer online roles for those keen on honing their tech skills, by helping to research, photograph and list items for our increasingly popular online shops.

Behind the scenes, you can take on warehouse assistant or specialist roles which can provide transferrable skills that are perfect for future job applications. There are also opportunities to become volunteer stock collection drivers, stock generators and volunteer recruiters who get out in the local area.    

There really is something for everyone. So please this Christmas, give the gift of time to BHF Scotland – we need you now more than ever. That time will help save and change lives.Find out more at or find your local shop at

James Jopling, Head of BHF Scotland


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