We’d promised a primary school in Stratford that we’d brighten up their school and had a group of volunteers from Twentieth Century Fox lined up for the day.
The run up to the event didn’t start too well, with a mix up from the store delivering the paint and the prospect of having to create a mural without our main materials; however after a mad dash across town to pick up and deliver the paint, we were ready and set to go!
The day itself was cold but bright and I arrived at the school to find a group of volunteers huddled together at the entrance, apprehensively discussing the task ahead. They faced a big challenge - painting a school dining hall, corridor and classroom with recognisable characters from children’s fiction. No wonder they were nervous!
The volunteers began by tentatively using projectors to outline their pictures before mixing up different colours. Luckily they all worked well as a team from the go and their confidence grew quickly as they began to see their images take life in front of them. Before long, the halls of the dining room began to fill up with identifiable pictures from children’s stories - Winnie the Pooh, the BFG and Dumbledore among them.
They were making such good progress that we decided to move onto the other rooms earlier than intended. Some were so engrossed that a planned stop for lunch didn’t happen, even though they were actively encouraged to take a break!
Half-way through the day, the headteacher came to review the progress and to thank the volunteers. She was moved by the efforts they had made and felt that they surpassed anything that she’d expected.
The highlight, however, came towards the end of the event, when a group of children, having secretly witnessed the progress on the dining hall, came to thank the volunteers in person and present them with a card. Seeing the looks on the faces of the pupils as they viewed their new eating area was a moment that all the volunteers appreciated.
In all, it was a fabulous day for everyone involved. The volunteers loved being creative and doing something outside of their normal work-life, whilst the teachers and children alike were thrilled by the transformation of their school. A day that definitely confirms why this kind of event is so important and why I enjoy working in this sector so much!
Every year we help hundreds of companies to get involved in really rewarding employee volunteering like this. If you'd like to do something similar, take a look at www.timebank.org.uk/employee-volunteering