Wayne is an inspiration to British Heart Foundation volunteers

WAYNE Snell is a shining example of how voluntary work can not only benefit good causes but also boost a person’s career prospects.

After almost two years of helping out at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) furniture and electrical store in the Darwin Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury following redundancy, 34-year-old Wayne, who lives in the town’s Monkmoor district, has just landed a full-time job.

And he firmly believes his unpaid role at the store helped him land his new position as a supervisor with a local food distribution company.

Now the BHF is hoping Wayne’s success story will inspire others to sign up to work at the store, which is currently desperately short of volunteers.

Wayne, who is single, had worked for eight years at a car components manufacturer in Telford, ending up as an online quality controller before the redundancy axe fell in 2009.

He has suffered from a congenital heart condition all his life, so finding another job was even tougher for him.

But the condition, which means he is unable to do certain things such as drive or work at heights, led him to enquire about volunteering with the BHF just over 18 months ago.

He was asked to join the team at the furniture and electrical store about a month before it opened, which qualifies him as its longest-serving volunteer.

Wayne has since come through the BHF’s own comprehensive in-house training programme and even qualified for two NVQs along the way.

He said: “After being made redundant I was finding it very difficult to get another full-time job, especially with my heart condition, so I thought I would try volunteering with the BHF.

“I was taken on and remember that I was the store’s very first volunteer, starting about a month before it actually opened which meant I helped to set everything up.

“Since then I have been working in the store as often as possible, which is usually four or five days a week for the full day.

“I’ve also been looking for another full-time job and I have just been taken on as a supervisor at a food distribution company in Shrewsbury.

Wayne added: “While I’ve been at the store I’ve had the full training and earlier this year also qualified for two NVQ’s – one in customer service and the other in retail – and, without doubt, it was having these qualifications and the other skills I’ve learned at the BHF, such as how to do administration, that helped me get the new job.

“But getting the job doesn’t mean I’m going to stop my volunteering because I’ll be starting work early in the morning and finishing at midday, so I hope I can still go into the BHF store in the afternoons.

“I enjoy working there very much. I like meeting and chatting to the customers and advising them on the range of products we sell.

“Apart from helping the charity, which does so much good work for people with heart problems such as myself, I’ve also helped myself to find paid work.

“Being with the BHF obviously looked good on CV and also helped me have confidence at the interview for the new job, and I would encourage anyone who fancies it to come along and give a try.”

Wayne’s BHF manager, Darren Hall said: “We are currently 194 volunteering hours short at the store. We’re looking for people to work on the sales floor, in warehousing and in administration.

“Wayne is the perfect example of how useful can be to the charity and help their own career prospects.

“He successfully went through our in-house training programme, which covers call handling, administration, electrical safety testing, customer relations and selling skills.

“He also obtained his NVQs, which the BHF runs with Derby College.

“People can tailor their volunteering hours to suit themselves but we recommend they opt for a five-hour shift, which is more convenient than four hours.

“Also, if they do three five-hour shifts they are eligible to go on the NVQ programme like Wayne did.”

He added: “In the last six months we’ve had five of our volunteers get paid employment on the back of being with us.

“The biggest thing we offer to our volunteers is confidence to get back into work and to get that job.

“We always say that every hour we don’t have to pay someone to work in one of shops is money we can save and use instead to have a heart nurse look after a patient.

“You can also fit it in with Jobseekers so it doesn’t affect your allowances but it does give you invaluable work experience.”

Kevin Lockwood, Manager of the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres, said: “The BHF store is a really busy and important part of our retail offer here and it is a real retailer which provides top class experience of working in the sector.

“That’s shown by the number of volunteers who have used it as a springboard to full time careers and the latest of those is Wayne who is showing his continued commitment by carrying on with his volunteer work at the store.”

The shop can be contacted by calling 0844 248 9188, and more information is available about BHF volunteering on the charity’s website at http://www.bhf.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer.aspx


Caption: BHF Volunteer Wayne Snell, left, with Darren Hall, Manager of the Darwin Centre store in Shrewsbury.


Michael Michael

Severn Magazine and Love Shrewsbury Editor.

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