A week of volunteering!Kate Shepherd
It’s been a frantic few months for our Employee Volunteer team this summer, with groups of corporate volunteers out most days.
We partner with a wide range of small charities and community-run organisations so our volunteers get an amazing choice of activities in which to participate. This variety was on show in July when our colleague Mark took part in five consecutive but very different days with volunteers from the tax advisory firm Frank Hirth and media data management company Mediatel.
The sun has come out (occasionally) and as a result our environmental days have been incredible popular, with teams wanting to make the most of their day out of the office. The first of this week’s volunteering days took place at a very hot and humid Wormwood Scrubs in West London where the brambles have gone into overdrive and most of the pathways covered by an impenetrable wall of the overgrown, thorny plants. We equipped a team of 20 volunteers with saws, loppers and pruning shears, and set about clearing these paths once more. It was hard work in the hot weather but incredibly satisfying to see the paths slowly open back up again. A few sharp eyed volunteers were even treated to a sighting of a common lizard scurrying into the undergrowth.
The second group of volunteers this week had a much more sedate volunteering experience at Wandsworth Work and Play Store. This fantastic charity takes donations of waste and surplus materials such as paper, paint, textiles and much more and upcycles them to provide art supplies for the local community. These materials are processed by volunteers, without whom the charity would struggle to exist, and then displayed in the store’s supermarket-style treasure trove.
TimeBank supports a range of foodbanks who provide emergency food packages to people who are struggling in the local community. On Wednesday, our team of volunteers were at Dagenham Foodbank in East London. The day started with a ‘supermarket sweep’. The group were split into two teams, equipped with small budget and a shopping list of non-perishable items needed by the foodbank. Each team then raced to be the first to buy all their items within budget. The afternoon was then spent sorting, weighing, labelling and dating food donations for the food bank, ready to be given out to the service users later in the week.
I took a group of volunteers to help a charitable housing provider working within the borough of Tower Hamlets. Many residents in this area are elderly and unable to keep their gardens in check, so are reliant on others to do this for them. We split into two teams and knocked on the door to introduce ourselves to the resident whose garden we’d be working in. We then spent the day removing weeds, cutting the lawn and pruning rose bushes, much to the joy of the elderly resident, who was kind enough to offer us tea and biscuits for our service.
The week finished as it started, with a day outside in the sun. However, this was at an extra special venue: the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The green space that winds its way between the London Stadium, the London Aquatics Centre and the Lee Valley VeloPark was planted with a magnificent floral display during the 2012 Olympics but has since been neglected and is in need some work. A team of four volunteers and I spent the day planting wildflowers in the shadow of the London Stadium, a brilliant way to end a busy week.
As this week shows, TimeBank partners with a wide range of small charities and community-run organisations who benefit greatly from teams of volunteers coming in to help for a day. If you and your colleagues would like to take part in one of these days , please contact the Employee Volunteering team at EmployeeVolunteering@timebank.org.uk