Yesterday we did our Christmas Party volunteering and yes I know it was April 30, which is some time after Christmas! The thing was, in December we were busy moving offices in London so I postponed our Christmas ‘do’ and promised staff we’d do it in the New Year.
The trouble is that there is always something going on and it just gets put on the ‘too difficult to do’ list. But we finally set a date.
Last year for our staff away day the Birmingham team came to London so the London team headed to Birmingham this time.
At TimeBank we have volunteered every Christmas for the last three years – we’re a volunteering charity, yes, but actually it’s because it’s more fun and rewarding than a traditional Christmas party and it’s more inclusive for a diverse workforce. We still have the meal and drinks afterwards – but volunteering first makes you feel good about yourself, you’ve made a difference and you have a common achievement to talk to your colleagues about.
We thought others would like to try it too so we put on Christmas volunteering events as part of our employee volunteering offer, though more traditionally through November and December!
Volunteering takes many forms and with our five days volunteering leave staff tend to do the things that they really care about which are usually skills based. But for a good team building activity that makes sure everyone can be involved we did an environmental challenge at the Ackers Adventure Centre – a charity that provides access to open space and adventurous activities in over 75 acres of diverse landscape in the centre of Birmingham.
There really was something for everyone – those with bad backs and one of our pregnant colleagues were on light litter picking duties, others painted benches or cleared ponds in fetching waders or dug out tyres long buried in an area being redeveloped. It was utterly exhausting but great fun to be mixing with our colleagues from Birmingham and Scotland – to be doing something altogether in our fetching orange T-shirts, occasionally with the added fashion statement of a poncho fending off the April showers, encouraging one another to push that extra bit to dig something out or cut down another bramble!
Afterwards of course we went for a meal and shared our day over a wonderful vegetarian Indian spread, and for those of us inclined a very cold beer!
As one of the team said: “You should cancel Christmas more often Helen – that was a fantastic day.” From Scrooge to hero in one hit! But there was only one winner, volunteering – simple, it wins every single time – give it a go.
If you’d like to get your company volunteering, take a look at our Spring into Action campaign