Friday was one of those days that remind you just why you do the job that you do and love it!
More than half the TimeBank team were out on site at the CEB Global Service Day that we had been commissioned to organise for them in the UK. I say on site, but they were actually at NINE sites across London and the South East. 450 people were co-ordinated by nine TimeBank staff and 30 CEB lead volunteers who we had trained and taken to the sites in advance. It was logistically quite a challenge, particularly when you have to add in transporting 150 pairs of gardening gloves and wet weather ponchos, just in case! Fortunately the weather was kind to us and all of those have come back to the office ready for the next event we are asked to run.
Six of the sites were schools where we created reading corners in classrooms and outside spaces for children aged 4-11. Beforehand the children had told us what would inspire them to read, so volunteers arrived equipped to build space rockets (memories of Blue Peter washing up bottles come flooding back!), crocodiles, fairy tales, oceans - you name it they created it. In some of the schools children were having classes at the same time, in others they were helping – teachers were comparing corners in other rooms just to confirm the one in theirs was the best!
Meanwhile on the environmental sites, litter was picked, weeds were weeded, soil was spread, grass seed scattered, and stag beetle breeding habitats created. The feedback from these sites was simple – how did they do so much so quickly?! Never have we seen so many passionate, enthusiastic volunteers transform an environment so completely in such as short space of time. Four hours x 450 = a big impact. Just imagine what could be achieved if those people go on to volunteer again and as we all know, a good experience often leads to the desire to do more.
As for me, I spent the day with CEB’s CEO Tom Monahan, who flew in from the States specially to take part – meeting at 7.30am we headed to one environmental site to get our hands dirty for a couple of hours and then to a school to paint and stick and tie things up before meeting all the teams at a reception at the National Theatre - finally I can say I have spoken on stage at the National! And what a speech to be able to make – pretty simple, THANK YOU – from every school and every child whose attitude to reading has changed, THANK YOU from everyone who has the chance to spend a weekend at scout camp or see a biodiversity garden so far removed from the place where they live day to day. The fact that this was going on globally at all CEB’s offices worldwide shows them to be a company that truly believes in walking the talk and making a difference in their communities. So if you work for a company and want to make a difference as well as letting your staff know what a great company they work for, give us a call and we’ll put together a great volunteering day for you too.