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Volunteering Stories – Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

We’d like to give a huge #volunteersweekscot THANK YOU to those volunteering with Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland across Glasgow who have shared their stories – take a look below!

Svita Chernetska, a fashion stylist, buyer and boutique owner in her native Ukraine found her perfect volunteering role as a retail volunteer in Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland’s charity boutique in Bothwell.  She shares why giving back to the community is so important to her.

Svita, who turns 50 in June 2023, arrived in Scotland six months ago as a refugee from Ukraine. Shortly after arriving, she made it her mission to give back to the country that was supporting her in her time of need.

She said; “As soon as I arrived in Scotland, I wanted to be useful, to get out and meet people and learn the language, as well as giving back to the country that was supporting me in a difficult time.

“I began looking for volunteering roles, and was very lucky to find one in CHSS boutique in Bothwell when I walked past the store and saw an appeal for volunteers in the window.

“It is such a beautiful shop. I was so pleased to be able to start volunteering here and putting my skills to good use.

Svita’s role in the store includes styling mannequins, creating window displays, as well as advising customers on their style choices. When she is not volunteering in the store, Svita attends various college courses, including English language.

Svita commented; “I volunteer in the store twice a week.  The staff and volunteers are so lovely.  They make me feel welcome and it has been so good for helping me with my English.

“The shop is so busy. I love that people in Scotland are excited by buying second hand and upcycling.  This is something I was very keen on encouraging people to do back home in Ukraine.

Svita arrived in Scotland without friends or family.  She lives with a number of other Ukrainian refugees in Strathclyde Park who are currently awaiting permanent housing.

“When I left Ukraine, I had to leave everything behind.  I felt alone.  Volunteering with CHSS has allowed me to give something back, but has also given me something too.  I feel part of the community, which makes me feel good.”

Laura Chen, 37, is a retail volunteer at Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Partick store.  Laura began volunteering as a way to meet people in Glasgow after moving back to the city.  Now almost two years on she’s discovered a whole new charity family.

When I first returned to Glasgow, I didn’t have a job and was looking for a way to reconnect with people in the city and to society.

“Since I had time on my hands, I decided that I wanted to contribute and volunteer my time.  I looked for opportunities close to where I live and found out that CHSS’ Partick store was looking for volunteers.

“When I started working in the store, I thought it would be quiet, and that maybe I would meet a few people.  What I actually discovered was a big group of people from different backgrounds and cultures – it was like a mini UN!

“There were a lot of students from overseas and we quickly began sharing not only our stories and experiences, but also bringing in food from our home countries to enjoy with each other.  It has been so much fun to learn about people through their food and culture, and a great way to make friends.

As well as experiencing new food and cultures, Laura has also found inspiration from talking with all the people that work and shop in the store.  She said; “One thing I love about volunteering is talking to people and hearing their stories.  Listening to other volunteers is very inspiring to me.  It is also a great way to get to know the locals!

Now almost two years on, Laura is working as an HR Administrator, but she still makes time to volunteer regularly at the Partick store.  “I’m busier now that I am working two jobs, but I make sure that I come in every couple of weeks to help out in the store.

“I know that I am always able to find time as volunteering with CHSS is so important to me.  I think to myself, ‘who knows – maybe I’ll need their help one day!’”

Allan Stewart lives in Dumbarton. He has been a volunteer driver for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland since 2018 and is involved in two peer support groups in Paisley.

In the run-up to his retirement, a decade after most people are collecting their pension, Allan Stewart knew he would need something productive still to do.

So, two years before he finally called time on his business career at the age of 76, Allan did a quick Google search for charities looking for volunteers. Within weeks, he was signed up as a driver with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.

Allan is a firm part of the CHSS volunteer family, driving participants to and from two peer support groups in the Paisley area.

Allan, who lives in Dumbarton, says: “I had no experience of stroke, so it was an eye-opener when I first met the people who were recovering. It’s been an experience but a worthwhile one to be involved in.”

A former Merchant Navy officer, Allan latterly ran a marine consultancy firm after a long career in the shipping business. Having decided to spend less time at work, he was casting around for a volunteer role when he came across CHSS. Since the pandemic, he and his partner have decided to close the consultancy, and now his free time is mostly devoted to his voluntary roles.

He says: “I started with CHSS in July 2018, driving some of the guys to a men’s group in Gallowhill in Paisley. I also picked up some other stroke survivors who attended an art class, also in Paisley, which is affiliated to CHSS.

“However, when you start as a volunteer, you very quickly become much more involved in what’s going on, and I got quite into it.

“The interesting thing about being involved in volunteering is that you meet a wide section of people affected by a stroke and it is rewarding to see them recover as best as they can. Everyone in the groups have different things going on, but they’re all willing to share their solutions and experiences to their mutual benefit.

“Anyone who does any kind of volunteering gets a lot of satisfaction from it. I always just hoped that my general knowledge, experience and encouragement could help a little bit.”


Morag Taylor lives in Clarkston, Glasgow. A nurse in neo-natal surgical intensive care, she had to give up work because of a hip injury. She has been a volunteer with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland since 2014 in a variety of roles.

In her career as a nurse in neo-natal surgical intensive care, Morag Taylor was used to being busy, being active and being needed.

But when she suffered nerve damage in her hip, Morag was forced to give up the job she loved. While initially she was stuck at home because she couldn’t manage to walk great distances, Morag decided she needed to do something.

So, on the advice of a friend who was already a volunteer with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Morag got in touch with us. And, over eight years later, Morag is still happily giving up her time to help those living with our conditions.

Morag lives in Clarkston with her husband. A mum to two grown-up children, she’s also about to become a gran for the first time this year.

She says: “I wanted to do something that wasn’t too strenuous at the time. I couldn’t get out at the time because I was on a lot of painkillers, but I knew I could talk to people in their homes or groups. That’s how it started, and I still enjoy it so much.

“In a totally selfish way, volunteering has given me a feeling of being useful again.

“I do several different things. I do one-to-ones with people who have just been released from hospital, giving them some support and helping them adjust.

“I also volunteer at the communication group that meets at Silverburn. And a lot of people in that group, who are all recovering from stroke, go along to a walking group at Rouken Glen Park once a fortnight, so I volunteer as one of the helpers there, too.

“I can’t tell which role is most rewarding because they are all so great to do. I love speaking to the clients and I love the walking and communication groups. No matter what I’m doing, it’s such good fun and we all have a laugh together.”

Bronwyn Tibbs is the Community Support Services Coordinator for CHSS in Glasgow who has worked with Morag as a volunteer with the charity.

She says: “All our volunteers are amazing people with so much to give, but Morag is special. She worked for a long time with a man who had been left with no speech at all after a stroke.

“She visited him weekly and took him things like word games and her own tablet to give him stimulation and encouragement to communicate in other ways. She was also a great support to his wife. During lockdown, Morag kept in touch with him through video calls so he didn’t feel alone.

“Sadly he passed away during lockdown, but Morag was such an amazing support, making him feel important and valued at all times.

“The work she and our other volunteers do is incredible. They go above and beyond all the time to help those they are supporting. They deserve all our thanks.”

For Morag, the praise is nice, but what she really wants is to keep doing what she’s doing.

She says: “For as long as they’ll put up with me, I’ll keep volunteering! I recommend it to anyone – you will get so much out of it and the person or people you are helping will get so much out of it, too.”

Ash Kasibante is a 23-year-old Software Engineering student at Glasgow University. Not content to just focus his time on his studies, Ash is also a volunteering hero for Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland’s retail store in Partick, as well as being a member of the charity’s Health & Wellbeing Working Group. 

Ash breaks into a huge smile when asked to describe what his volunteering role at CHSS’ Partick retail store entails.  “Everything!” he laughs.  From sorting stock to serving customers, Ash is a key member of the retail team. 

He first began volunteering with CHSS in the summer of 2021.  Ash, who lives in Maryhill, says; “It was during the pandemic that I first thought of volunteering.  I was studying but there wasn’t much else to do and I was really bored.  I started to look around online for opportunities in my area and came across CHSS. 

Now Ash can regularly be found in CHSS Partick store at weekends and during the university holidays, where he has made many friends and got to know local people. 

“My volunteering experience wasn’t what I expected.  I didn’t realise that I would be working with so many people and become friends with people of all ages and backgrounds.  There is always someone around to chat to or to hang out with after work. 

“Working in the store has also given me an introduction to music from the sixties as it is always playing in the background.  It’s really grown on me! 

“I haven’t convinced my friends from university to join me in volunteering yet, but they have visited the shop and take an interest in what I do.  I think they like to see the place where I spend so much of my spare time. 

“Volunteering is really important to me and has given me a lot.  I’m really committed to CHSS and hope to work with the charity for a long time to come.” 

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