A CHARITY is appealing for help after revealing its shops in Beckenham and Orpington have been hit by the recession, terrible weather and problematic parking facilities.

The British Heart Foundation has said it is “struggling to get volunteers through the door”.

A spokeswoman told News Shopper the organisation has issued a desperate appeal for people to give their time to the stores in Orpington and Beckenham – even for one afternoon a month - because things have got so bad.

It seems both shops have been afflicted with the retail malaise which saw high street giants Blockbuster, Jessops and HMV enter administration earlier this year.  

British Heart Foundation media officer Lucy Jones said: “The Beckenham store has been doing better and better until about October 2011 where the staff really started struggling to get volunteers through the door.

“The general decline of Beckenham High Street (where seven shops have recently closed) seems to be having a big impact.

“Parking in both Beckenham and Orpington seems to have impacted on volunteers coming forward.

“Sales have gone down over the last year and a half and this again is due to issues in the local area and people finding difficult to park near the store.”

Ms Jones explained the especially wet season has also discouraged the public from giving their time.

She said: “Both stores find the weather also has a bad effect. The cold weather has a massive impact on the number of people who come in and volunteer.

“The weather needs to be just right, not too hot and not too cold to encourage people to come in.”

There is a variety of volunteer roles including merchandising clothes, shoes and accessories to window dressing and working behind the till.

The charity provides the salaries for around 500 scientists who work in research teams across the UK on projects combating heart disease, the biggest killer in the UK.

Volunteering with the charity for half a day a month could fund one of the scientists to carry out their research for an hour. 

For more information, call 0844 412 5000 or visit bhf.org.uk/volunteer