British Heart Foundation to reopen stores amid £10m a month losses

The British Heart Foundation is to reopen around 400 of its shops this week, with more to follow next week, as it looks to recover from the financial impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

The opening is being phased to ensure the shops are safe for its staff and volunteers, some of whom have heart and circulatory diseases, who are at increased risk from Covid-19.

The move follows a trial opening involving around 40 shops. This week 395 shops will reopen, with 299 set to open their doors next week.

The coronavirus pandemic, which involved the subsequent closure of its shops and postponement of face-to-face fundraising, has cost the charity around £10m a month.

This is set to impact on the charities research and science funding. It is anticipating cutting research spending by half this year and is calling on the government for extra funding.

Health charities are being hit hard by the pandemic in recent months, with Cancer Research UK planning major job reductions amid a £300m income drop.

BHF’s income fall comes amid a surge in demand for its services, with calls to its Heart Helpline increasing by 400% at the peak of the pandemic.

“Our shops fund a huge proportion of UK cardiovascular research, so the reopening of doors is welcomed news for thousands of scientists and millions of people with heart and circulatory diseases, as well as our shoppers,” said BHF chief executive Dr Charmaine Griffiths.

“This moment was difficult to imagine just a few weeks ago, and its testament to the incredible commitment of our BHF team of colleagues and volunteers that we’ll be trading in every corner of the country within two weeks.

“But the coronavirus crisis will unfortunately have a long-lasting and devastating impact on charities like ours, with our funding for new research falling by a shocking £50m this year alone.

“That's why, not only do we need urgent help from our loyal supporters, we’re also urging the government to ensure funding for vital research charities.

“For us, it will mean we can protect the progress we have made so far and continue to transform the lives of those with heart and circulatory diseases. It’s ultimately patients who will suffer if this doesn’t happen.

Measures being taken at the reopened BHF stores include resting all donations from the public for 72 hours before going on sale. Customers will also be able to donate at contact free donation points being set up at BHF shop entrances.

Pick-ups of larger items will be contact free. In addition a postal donation service has been set up, to limit contact further.

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