Heart of the matter

In her regular column highlighting charitable projects and services, Link4Growth volunteer Debra Oakaby visits a charity shop raising money for a vital cause

Saimum Chowdhury

British Heart Foundation shop manager Saimum Chowdhury

Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer in the borough, accounting for 24 per cent of premature deaths at age 75 or below, according to the Waltham Forest Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). This includes all diseases of the heart and circulation, which has a higher prevalence at all ages in Waltham Forest compared with other London boroughs that have similarly high relative deprivation.

This is a huge problem and your help is required. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has a shop at 257 High Street, Walthamstow, and donations of books, clothing, shoes, toys, bric-a-brac and more, are always welcome. Volunteers are also needed.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing shop manager Saimum Chowdhury. As I approached the shop I noticed a number of hearts hanging in the window, with messages to loved ones on display. In the centre of the window was a heart from Dame Esther Rantzen, who is also one of the ambassadors at BHF. Her message read: “Love your heart. Love the BHF.” My sentiments too.

Meeting Saimum was like a breath of fresh air. She has worked at the shop since it opened in November 2007 and is passionate and enthusiastic about what she does. When asked what she liked about it, she said: “I love everything. I love dealing with the customers and the challenge every year to make more money for BHF.”

Saimum told me about her volunteers, who come from different backgrounds. She provides retail training, and certificates are awarded to volunteers who work regularly at the shop and are reliable.

Earlier this month, Saimum and her colleagues were wearing red as part of BHF’s national fundraising campaign called ‘Wear It. Beat It.’ Other fundraising events were held at schools and work places.

If you would simply like to help by making a donation, these can be dropped off at the counter of the shop, or you can arrange a free collection by calling 0208 521 9500.

BHF also has second-hand furniture shops in The Mall in Walthamstow, and in Leytonstone High Road. If you have furniture or electrical items to donate call 0208 521 2098 (Walthamstow) or 0208 712 5320 (Leytonstone).

If you would like to volunteer at the Walthamstow High Street shop, email Saimum on w44@bhf.org.

If you have any stories to share about the local community in action drop in at a Link4Growth meeting held regularly in Walthamstow and Chingford or contact Debra on the details below:

Call Debra on 07906 007 613

Visit www.facebook.com/L4G.NELondon

Email chingford@link4growth.biz