British Heart Foundation launches urgent appeal to fund helpline

Demand surges by 500 per cent after advertising campaign

The British Heart Foundation has launched an emergency fundraising drive to support its helpline for people with heart disease after an advertising campaign prompted a surge in demand.

The foundation is asking supporters to contribute £200,000 by the end of March so it will not have to divert funds from other services to cover a fivefold increase in costs for the Heart Helpline.

An advertising campaign to spread awareness of the service, which is aimed at people living with heart conditions and their family members, was launched at the start of the year, and calls rocketed by 500 per cent in January and February.

"We knew it would elicit a response, but we didn't realise how big the response would be," said Kate Shanley, acquisitions director at the charity.

The helpline, which is staffed by cardiac nurses and information specialists, has stayed open until 10pm to cope with demand, but running costs have increased to £125,000 a month.

"We will continue to fund the service, but we are trying to do what any charity would and appeal to our supporters," said Shanley. "If we move money from one pot to another, there is a danger that other services will be reduced."

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