Inspired by the work of leading UK-based charity the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Dilruba Ahmed volunteered to help out in one of their high street stores. With a nine-year old daughter in school, the business and IT graduate was looking to ease herself back into the workforce. Little did she know then that her decision to volunteer would lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career with the BHF.
Once her daughter was settled in school, Dilruba found she had some spare time on her hands. However, this was quickly filled by the needs of family and friends. Although, Dilruba was more than happy to support those closest to her, including helping her sister’s retail business, she grew increasingly frustrated that her efforts were not being recognized. So she decided to focus her energies on volunteering. “I thought I’ve got to go out and do my own thing.”
Close to her parent’s home in Ilford, East London, a BHF charity store was opening up. Dilruba had walked past it many times and was always drawn to the posters asking for volunteers. One day, she went inside to offer her services.
“I started doing two days a week and then Saturdays and Sundays because I was enjoying it so much. It’s all about sales, and I like sales, I’m good at talking with people. And the shop really appreciated what I was doing.”
Making an Impact
But more than that, Dilruba was relishing the chance to give something back to the community and society.
“By volunteering with the BHF I am making a difference to the lives of many vulnerable people all around the country every day. Knowing that is very motivating. And as well as helping out the British Heart Foundation I’m honing my sales skills at the same time.”
Dilruba wasn’t yet thinking of going back into full-time employment but a manager position opened up in a nearby BHF store. Impressed by her energy, passion and commitment, Dilruba’s boss encouraged her to apply. She did, and landed the role.
“I never thought that I would be offered a job, that all my hard work would be recognized and would lead to a new career. This Job has given me so much and I know my work and efforts are really valued.”
The store is an important community resource where the public can buy cheap and good quality second-hand clothes, furniture and household items. The money goes to supporting BHF’s efforts to combat coronary heart disease, the UK’s single biggest killer. Dilruba has an interest in the charity’s research efforts and keeps up-to-date with what’s going on.
“We receive the monthly bulletin which I read as it tells us about the latest research and what is being achieved. At some point in the future I would like to know exactly how our store is helping to make a difference.”
The Power of Volunteering
Dilruba is a passionate advocate for volunteering. She sees it as a win-win situation. Not only does it have a meaningful and positive impact on the community, but volunteers learn or develop new skills, enjoy new experiences and boost their career options.
“Wherever I go I try to tell as many people as possible about how great volunteering with the BHF is. I cannot emphasize how important it is to volunteer and realize the potential that you may have.”