Store at beating centre of making Croydon a Heart Town

The British Heart Foundation's new store on George Street

The British Heart Foundation’s new store on George Street

Croydon is to become a “Heart Town”, with the borough’s new mayor, Yvette Hopley, choosing the British Heart Foundation as one of her official charities for the coming year and endorsing the campaign to reduce the amount of heart disease among residents.

The other charity Mayor Hopley has nominated is the South East Cancer Help Centre, based at Purley Cross.

“I am particularly interested in both these charities as family members have been affected and required the services of both cancer care and heart surgery,” she said.

“I hope, by raising the profile through my work as Mayor, to help prevent and fight Britain’s biggest killer – circulatory and heart disease – and to raise awareness for early detection in cancer.”

Hopley’s announcement comes just a few weeks since the BHF opened its latest, and among its biggest, charity shops in the area, in Suffolk House on George Street, close to Croydon College and East Croydon station.

Mayor Yvette Hopley: British Heart Foundation among her nominated charities

Croydon Mayor Yvette Hopley: the British Heart Foundation is among her nominated charities

The store offers quality, affordable second-hand furniture and electrical items for the local community – with more than a nod to the demands from cash-strapped students looking to furnish their first bed-sits or flats.

“The money raised by the Croydon store will help fund essential research which could create a better future for many – from babies born with heart defects, to the millions of adults affected by heart disease,” said Dr Stephen Harmer, a BHF-funded researcher at Queen Mary, University of London, at its official opening last month.

The store is stocked with generous donations from Croydon locals, including everything from suites, wardrobes, dining sets and beds, to electrical items including TVs, washing machines, fridges and dishwashers. Apparently, many of these are not second-hand items; they are just “pre-owned”.

The BHF has already funded a number of initiatives in Croydon, including 39 defibrillators, four heart failure nurses, 12 heartstart schemes as well as two Help a Heart grants, worth up to £2,000. This is in addition to the 347 research grants, worth nearly £144 million, in the London area.

“By supporting the new Croydon store we can continue to search for a breakthrough to put an end to the suffering caused by heart disease,” Dr Harmer said. “But medical research costs money and the BHF urgently needs support to rid the UK of heart disease and the misery it brings.”

Around 80,000 people in Britain die from coronary heart disease each year.

“Research funded by the British Heart Foundation has saved thousands of lives and greatly improved the quality of life for people with heart problems,” Dr Harmer said. “But our fight against heart disease isn’t over. To help us raise vital funds to support this life-saving research we need the people of Croydon to donate their unwanted furniture and electricals to the new Croydon store.

“When you consider that selling two sofas could fund a local scientist like me for a whole day, it really puts it into perspective how much this store can help us keep fighting for every heartbeat.”

The BHF store has had a busy first month of trading

The BHF store has had a busy first month of trading

The BHF has been seeking a suitable central Croydon store for nearly three years, being out-bid on one property by Sainsbury’s. At Suffolk House, they have taken a 10-year lease, and the landlord has allowed them to convert four units together along with the office space upstairs. “It is important for us to have a lot of space as we need a lot of storage space for the items which aren’t on the shop floor,” said Elkie Woodbridge, BHF’s regional manager.

The property had been empty for a couple of years before the BHF moved in, yet they have been given no reductions on the rent, and only some relief on business rates.

Woodbridge says that she and her managers are not concerned about the lack of any car parking spaces nearby, or from being on the “wrong side” of George Street from most passing commuters. “We have a good following from the college and also strong bus traffic passing us,” she said. “With the tram stop just up the road anyone travelling into Croydon can see us as well.

“We always work very hard in promoting where we are and rely on good press coverage, handing out leaflets and word of mouth. The store manager and area manager will always continue working on getting the BHF name out to ask for stock, looking for volunteers and getting customers into the store – all of which are of the utmost importance to our success.”

  • The Croydon BHF store offers a free collection service for larger household items which can be arranged by contacting the store directly on 0844 848 9616 or booked online
  • Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon – 267,670 page views (Nov 2012-Apr 2013)
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