Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Thanks and Goodbye from Peter and Keith

The live chat has now finished. Thank you for all your questions and staying with us for the answers.

This is the first in a series of live chats which we'll be continuing over the coming months. The next topic planned is on policy, in November. Please check our website, Facebook page and Twitter account for more details in the weeks to come.

As always do comment here if you've got any other thoughts or questions. But for now Peter and Keith would like to say goodbye.

Lesley Hanson: I work in an F&E store and find it rewarding - but hard work when on the phone for collections.

Thanks for all your hard work - it's great to hear you enjoy it. Without people like you we really wouldn't be here and able to continue our life-saving work.

I've recently been in several Furniture & Electrical (F&E) stores and understand there is a real challenge associated with the need to find out whether what is being offered to us is actually saleable. As you know if it isn't we are faced with the cost of disposing of it.

We understand that manning the phone line is difficult but its a crucial part of the job and in doing it you are doing something which is fundamental to our very successful F&E fundraising results.

F&E stores have been a huge success and are now a really important part of the BHF. As are you by being involved. If you'd like any more support or training please talk to your shop manager and share this response with him or her. And of course if you've got ideas for improvement please let him or her know also.

Phil Morris: why don't you produce a regular newsletter for funeral directors - reminding them of their local contact & asking them to order leaflets?

Unfortunately producing newsletters can be quite expensive. We do have a number of staff and volunteers across the BHF who keep in contact with funeral directors. We believe this personal contact to be really effective.

But we're always reviewing the best way to carry out different aspects of our fundraising. After your comment we'll take a fresh look at this and let you know our future plans.

Thank you very much indeed for the suggestion - we're always keen to hear ideas about how we can do things better.

Dianna Cox: I'm hosting the West Highland Hike 2011 - how can I advertise this?

Putting on an event like this is a great way to support us so thank you.

We have a network of Fundraising Volunteer Managers (FVM) across the UK who can give support and advice. They can give sample press releases, template posters and ongoing advice on how to spread the word. Keith can put you in touch with your local FVM if you can email your details to lewisk@bhf.org.uk

Barry: I only have a few hours a week to help - what's the best way for me to help?

We're thrilled that you're interested in volunteering; even a couple of hours a week is ample time to support us. We've got some really simple ways you can volunteer. Take a look at our volunteer stories - eight amazing people who support the BHF, some with only a few hours a week like you.

Thank you. Keith is keen to put you in touch with your local team. Please send your contact details to lewisk@bhf.org.uk

Robert Hurnley asks: I've asked before, I'd like to see a BHF shop in Jersey, will this happen?

We are always very careful before establishing a new shop. Its extremely important that the income we get from it is more than the rental and other costs which we would have to bear. A really important part of this is whether we can source enough stock to generate the neccessary income. So far we've been unable to be certain that we could do that in Jersey.

We never say never however and things may change in the future. But for now we do have an online shop which of course we'd be delighted if you use.

You're clearly interested in our work and we'd also be keen to talk to you about other ways we can work together. Please pass on your contact details to Keith so we can get in touch (lewisk@bhf.org.uk).

Pauline Hughes: I've been part of BHF for 5 years and want to say how wonderful it is.

Pauline goes on to say: It's reassuring to know someone has the ability and understanding to step in when really needed.

Thank you for being part of the BHF for 5 years and thank you for all of your kind words about us. We're both personally touched by your comment.

We're very proud of what the British Heart Foundation has achieved over the years but there is still a long way to go before we've won the war against heart disease. We need more people like you and would love to share your story. Please do get in touch with Keith (lewisk@bhf.org.uk).

Jennie: I've been touched by stories of babies and children with congenital heart conditions. What is being done to raise awareness? & how can I help?

As you've mentioned we use stories to help raise awareness of the issue. Of course we're always striving to do more through improved ways of telling the story. If you have any personal skills or experience to help us do this we'd be delighted to hear from you.

Of course you can always support the British Heart Foundation in its work through volunteering or donating. This support helps us to carry on the funding of vital research into this tragic condition.

We've funded a number of research projects on congenital heart disease over our almost 50 years. There are many children who survive now as a result of this pioneering work. We continue to fund research in this area.

Many of these children are now young adults and benefit from our Yheart work which helps build confidence and enables them to live as normal a life as possible.

Ian Hansford asks: why do you upset your hard working volunteers by sending them letters asking for £1000?

We're really grateful for all donations from our supporters whether they are of time or money. Sometimes fundraising and volunteer activities do overlap because some people want to be involved in both.

We recognise that at the moment our contact database simply isn't good enough and we do sometimes unfortunately send inappropriate asks. We have a major project going on at the moment which will solve the problem and will be complete by early next year.

We're sorry to hear that you've received letters you don't want. If you can provide your details to Keith (lewisk@bhf.org.uk) we can make sure you don't get any more letters like this while the database project is completed.

As always thanks for all the support you've given and continue to give.

Anon asks: how do I find volunteering opportunities near me?

It's great to hear that you'd like to volunteer for us as without volunteers our work would be impossible. To find opportunities near you, please fill out our online enquiry form so we know what you're interested in and one of our local team can get in touch to discuss more with you. If you'd prefer to speak to us first please email Keith (lewisk@bhf.org.uk) your contact details so he can give you a call.

Anon asks: What volunteering activity is there other than working in shops?

Thank you for your interest in volunteering for us. There are lots of ways to get involved other than through shops, you could become a local contact or help with campaigning. Our fantastic events rely on volunteers to do one of a huge range of different things - from cheering along participants to giving out bananas to runners! We've even had some volunteers running in the national mascot race as our Mr Hearty.

There are a few more ideas on our website volunteering pages. You can sign-up online or get in touch with me (lewisk@bhf.org.uk)

Michelle asks: I was a volunteer years ago and have lost touch after moving house. How do I find out how I volunteer in Telford?

First of all we'd really like to thank you for having been a volunteer and of course we'd be delighted to have you back. We've now got an online map that should help you find out more about what is happening in Telford. But if you contact Keith (lewisk@bhf.org.uk) he will personally make sure that the local team will be in touch with you within a few days.

Thank you again for your wonderful comment about BHF.

Anthony McMahon asks: Do volunteers get a staff discount in F&E stores? A volunteer from the store I work at was refused one

There is a system for which volunteers can get a discount in Furniture & Electrical stores but it does depend on the product line.

We'd advise your colleague to check with their shop manager and check the reasons why the discount wasn't possible in the particular case in question.

Please do pass on our thanks to your colleague for volunteering.

Ray Short also asks: “When are members of staff at the BHF headquarters going to show less contempt in their dealings with the voluntary sector

Everybody in the BHF understands that without our supporters and volunteers it would be absolutely impossible to do our life-saving work. As Chief Exec I never miss an opportunity to remind staff of this.

We understand that under pressures of time staff don't always behave exactly as we would like - we've introduced a comprehensive development programme for all staff to ensure we give the very best service to our volunteers.

We're sorry to hear you've had a poor experience, thanks for bringing it to our attention. If you have more detail to help us follow this up please do share this with Keith (lewisk@bhf.org.uk). Keith will then take it up with the appropriate people.

We're always delighted to have feedback even if it does involve some uncomfortable messages. We believe that this is important to achieving continuous improvement.

Ray Short asks: Whatever happened to the much vaunted “insights team” was this just another BHF initiative without much substance

As a very valued volunteer for the British Heart Foundation we are distressed to hear that you believe that we start off initiatives without seeing them through. Please, if you have any other examples do let us know because we'd like to follow them up.

We're pleased to say we've made good progress on the insights project. We're just about to launch and have already got a number of people signed up as our insights panel. It's currently fully subscribed but if you're interested in taking part in the future we'd love to hear from you.

Of course the insights panel is not the only way we listen to our supporters. We'd encourage you to get in touch with your Fundraising Volunteer Manager or Regional team who can give you some more suggestions.

Diane asks about cardiac rehab publicity

Diane Asks: “I would like to ask why more G.Ps are not referring Heart Failure Patients for Cardiac Rehab...I was told I’m a candidate for this but that they don’t have enough Heart Failure Patients to do group work with because they are not getting the referrals. I live in Edinburgh and I spoke to my G.P last week about this and he thanked me for the information he will now start referring patients from his surgery.... defiantly a Lack of communication somewhere between G.Ps and Health Authorities I think.

The BHF believes that wherever appropriate heart patients should be referred to cardiac rehab. We have been campaigning hard on this and there is lots of info on our website campaign pages. At the moment only around half of the patients whom we believe would benefit from cardiac rehab are actually getting it. We want to see this change and actions like you've taken help this. You can also help us by getting your GP to get in contact with our Medical Director Peter Weissberg (weissbergp@bhf.org.uk) and we will get your GP the information he needs.

If you'd like to help us with the campaign please contact us directly (Keith Lewis - lewisk@bhf.org.uk).

Pam Brown asks: How many, the subjects and where are BHF research grants taking place?

BHF research grants cover almost everything which is relevant to cardiovascular disease. At any one time we have several hundred research grants in operation all around the UK. Our biggest spends on research are in Oxford, Cambridge, London and Edinburgh. There is lots more info on our website research pages.

Naturally all of this work is only possible with all the amazing support of our volunteers.

Q: Do you interview volunteers before they become volunteers?

We always talk to people about their skills and interests when tey say they are interested in volunteering for BHF. This is to make sure we are using their skills in the way which is best for the foundation and that they are getting the maximum amount of satisfaction.

It is also important for them and us to be clear how much or how little time they want to spend with us. All volunteers are very highly appreciated no matter what they do for us.

Live chat starting in 5mins

BHF live chat on Volunteering

We'll be starting our live Q&A on Volunteering in the next 5 minutes. Our Chief Exec Peter Hollins and Volunteer Fundraising Manager, Keith Lewis, will be answering all your questions. Unfortunately our Fundraising Director, Aneesha Moreira, has been called away and won't be joining us as planned.

We've had a few questions in already so will be starting very soon...

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Live chat for BHF Volunteers

Take part in our very first Volunteer Live Chat on Tuesday 5th October between 4pm and 6pm. Our Chief Executive, Peter Hollins, and Fundraising Director, Aneesha Moreira will both be on hand on the BHF blog to discuss your comments, ideas, feedback and questions.

You can submit your question in advance or on the day by:

We will answer all the questions on this blog we receive on our blog, so keep an eye out for your question and answer.

We look forward to hearing from you.