Swindon businesses embrace the UK’s largest day of employee volunteering

By Anita Jaynes on 20 May, 2015

Business across Swindon went out into their local communities to mark Give & Gain Day 2015, the UK’s largest celebration of employee volunteering, despite new research published by the charity Business in the Community (BITC) which suggests firms are failing to let their staff know they can volunteer in work time.

According to the research, three quarters (76%) of workers* in the UK either do not know (56%) or aren’t aware (20%) of their employer having a volunteering scheme.

The Ipsos MORI survey of 2,174 online adults aged 18+ in Great Britain assessed views on business behaviour. Among workers in the South West, it found only 5% reporting that they have used their employer’s volunteering scheme. A further 7% are aware of their employer’s volunteering scheme, but their primary reason for not using it is a lack of time.

Give & Gain Day, which took place last Friday (15 May), aims to address misconceptions around volunteering by engaging thousands of people on one day to take part. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the power and potential of employee volunteering and encourage and challenge many more businesses to invest time in their communities.

In Swindon, staff from facilities management firm, Romec gave up their time to re-decorate Inner Flame’s training rooms. Inner Flame helps people aged 16-25 who are not in education or training to get back into work or education. The young people they deal with are often troubled or having a difficult time. A team of ten volunteers from Romec, including carpenters, electricians and plasterers, helped renovate the rooms at Inner Flame where the young people do their training.

Also doing their bit on Give & Gain Day were employees from facilities management and construction services company, Carillion. The team of volunteers visited Whitbourne House, a residential care home specialising in helping dementia sufferers, to help staff there tend to the overgrown gardens, getting them ready for a Summer Fete being held in June.

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive, Business in the Community, said: “Volunteering is a powerful tool which builds dialogue and relationship between groups of people and organisations who might otherwise not have the opportunity to engage in a community. It also offers genuine mutual benefit – the experience both builds skills and motivates employees, while helping to make a positive contribution that meets community needs. Give & Gain Day is all about celebrating what can be achieved in communities through the power of volunteers – and we commend the hundreds of business and individuals involved across Swindon.

“Yet our research suggests there is more to be done to embed volunteering as part of everyday business with three quarters of employees saying they do not know if volunteering in work time is available to them and just 6% taking the opportunity to volunteer if offered. We urge many more business to get involved in volunteering and ask those who are involved to use it as a springboard into deeper long term business engagement in their local area.”

David Wreathall of Inner Flame commented: “We were absolutely delighted by the difference the Romec team made transforming our office environment. Our job is to inspire young people and this is much easier if our premises are bright and airy, as they are now. We were incredibly lucky to have such a skilled and dedicated team helping us out.”

This year Give & Gain Day focused on the simple power of conversation. Rarely do community organisations and business get to talk. This means businesses often don’t know what challenges communities are facing and the type of help they need, and community organisations don’t know what support business is willing and able to offer.

Give & Gain Day brought thousands of business people and hundreds of community organisations together, creating a unique opportunity to talk. Hundreds of Community Conversations took place across the country as part of the volunteering activity, and Business in the Community hopes these will unlock the potential for collaboration across sectors, leading to long-term relationships.

Give & Gain Day participants in Swindon were in good company, joining a global movement of thousands of volunteers across 20 countries as diverse as Spain, Iran, and Mexico.

Sponsored by Waitrose and in association with BT, Give & Gain Day 2015 is dedicated to getting thousands of employees out of the office, store or factory to volunteer in their local communities. By making volunteering fun, accessible and inspirational Business in the Community aims to make it something that all businesses give their staff an opportunity to do in work time.

For further information visit www.giveandgainday.org.uk

Pictured above: The Romec team painting at Swindon youth charity Inner Flame and team Carillion helping out at Whitbourne House. Photos by Richard Wintle of Calyx Pictures.