We're connecting businesses to communities to experience the joy of volunteering!

In February I started as Employee Volunteering Project Co-ordinator with TimeBank and what a few months it’s been. I moved to London from Northern Ireland four years ago, yet I’ve probably seen more of London during my time in this post than ever before.

When I moved people told me ‘Cara-Jan, you’re mad, no one has time for each other in London’. While it’s safe to say people at the bus stop here aren’t often up for a chat, when you look close enough there are so many bubbling, diverse networks and communities within London, it’s just about making that connection.

When you’re wrapped up in work you don’t always find the time to immerse yourself in the community where you live or work. My favourite part of my role at TimeBank is connecting people to their communities and seeing volunteers come to life when they realise the difference they’ve made. In the past three months I’ve seen a group of ten men with very little decorating experience paint the most beautiful landscape in a school (to which the Ofsted inspector later gave his sign of approval).

We’ve had a group tidy up a children’s playground followed by a very intense football game with the kids. Another team painted a mural full of inspirational figures including Malala Yousafzai, Marie Curie and William Shakespeare. And we built a community garden in the torrential rain at the back of a housing estate – the director of the company’s son even got involved in this one!

My favourite employee volunteering day so far has to be working with a team of volunteers from Fidelity Investments when 17 members of their team came to support a local foodbank.  We set the team a supermarket challenge, seeing who could be at the till first with all the items on their shopping list. The team were so enthusiastic and delegated roles, making it super clear and easy. Then when we returned to the foodbank to weigh, sort and date the items, they turned it into a game! The volunteers lined up and were each assigned a date and they would throw the pasta to the appropriate person according to the sell-by-date.

While this may sound like fun and games, it makes such a difference to a small foodbank which operates nearly entirely through the support of volunteers. Many hands make light work, so by taking part in a foodbank stocktake you can help to ensure food is sorted appropriately so nothing goes to waste.

The best part of the day was when Fidelity Investments announced that the rest of the team in the office had joined together to raise some money for the foodbank. In total, they raised an incredibly £4,350. Funmi Ikele who works for the foodbank told the team ‘I struggle for words to express our thanks and appreciation …your generous fundraising and subsequent donation of £4,350 to a charity that you’ve probably never heard of until now is unprecedented…indeed Fidelity Investments have set the bar for going above and beyond the call of duty in CSR!’

With limited funding and staff, small community organisations couldn’t cope without the support of volunteers. A day of your team’s time can be the equivalent of weeks of work for their team. And the result? Your staff get to spend a fun day together and they leave the day feeling positive and connected as a team having made a real difference.

I’d be the first person to put my hand up and say that arranging employee volunteering isn’t always easy. Finding a date that works for everyone, taking time out of the office, getting everyone there, there’s a lot to consider. That’s why we want to make it simple by doing  all of the leg work for you. We work with community groups all over London and the UK and would love to help your team connect to your local community and experience the joy of volunteering!