Team volunteering – a brilliant opportunity for me to get to know my work colleagues

Julia Shipston Julia Shipston

I joined TimeBank two months ago as the Fundraising and Business Development Coordinator. With my Business Development hat on I have been promoting our Employee Volunteering days to companies. These are a fantastic way for organisations to give back to their local community whilst bringing staff together to take part in a team activity. More than anything else though, its good fun! As I found out last week.

As well as designing employee volunteering days for other companies, TimeBank staff also participate in one every six months and last Friday we all met up at Balsall Heath City Farm in Birmingham for this summer’s event.

Balsall Heath City Farm was formed in 1980 on an old housing estate to provide local inner-city families with access to animals they would otherwise not get to see. Originally just housing a few chickens, the farm is now also home to sheep, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, geese, turkeys and cats.

Having been given our introduction to the farm we split into three teams: one team went about mending the children’s sand pit whilst the other two were responsible for digging holes for fence posts – two of the sheep on the farm have recently had lambs and need a new enclosure fenced off for them. 

This hole digging quickly became competitive with people regularly walking to the other end of the field to check on their rivals’ progress. Although my team were beaten to the required 50cm by a minute or two our hole was neater, so we claimed a moral victory.

One of the more adventurous lambs provided a distraction from all this digging by doing its best Harry Houdini impression and squeezing between the bars on its temporary enclosure – emphasising the need for the work we were doing. However, this escape act still required some work as the lamb got stuck half way. Instead of panicking though it decided to carry on grazing until we managed to pull the bars apart, allowing the lamb out in to its desired pasture. This is one lamb who definitely believes in the saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’!

Following our lamb saving heroics we had enough time left in the day to help the sand pit team with their task by shovelling out the sand into the chicken, duck and turkey enclosures. The birds apparently enjoy the texture and root around in it for insects to snack on. While we were doing this, children started arriving having finished their day at school. It was great to see so many young inner-city children taking such an interest in the animals and asking so many questions about the them and the farm in general.

For somebody so new to this organisation this volunteering day provided a brilliant opportunity for me to get to know my colleagues better in a more informal setting than usual. I was also able to see for myself the good that TimeBank’s Employee Volunteering days do for local communities which has motivated me even more to get more companies involved in them.

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