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Volunteering News

Celebrating St David’s Day: Menter a Busnes gives a helping hand in the community

In order to celebrate St David’s Day on March 1st, Menter a Busnes staff volunteered their time in their local communities and for local charities. The aim of the volunteering day was to give something back to our communities across Wales, and to celebrate the ‘little things’ that are done each day by communities and charities across the country.

Speaking of the decision to hold a volunteering day to celebrate St David’s Day, Alun Jones, Menter a Busnes’ Chief Executive said: “This is the first time we have done this and the idea gained a lot of support amongst our staff. The volunteering hours given by the staff equated to 35 working days, and over £740.00 was raised in aid of Marie Curie.”

Here is a taste of some of the day’s activities:

  • A visit to social enterprise, Antur Waunfawr, Gwynedd, to learn more about the work they do in the community and in providing training and employment opportunities for people with learning difficulties in their area. Staff visited 4 Antur sites including Beics Antur, the main site ‘Bryn Pistyll’ in Waunfawr where there is a cafe, shop and footpaths open to the public, Warws Werdd and the Caergylchu recycling facility at the Cibyn Industrial Estate to learn more about recycling items, clothes and household furniture.
  • Beach clean at Rhosneigr, Anglesey, and Borth, Ceredigion, and litter picking around Llyn Tegid, Llangernyw and Llanfair TH communities in Conwy, and Cardiff Bay
  • Giving blood
  • Helping carers at Canolfan Steffan, Lampeter
  • Painting at Peniel Community Primary School, Carmarthenshire
  • A visit to a care home in Tregaron, Ceredigion
  • Clearing public footpaths outside Machynlleth Rugby Club, Powys
  • A few staff members collected money in aid of ‘Marie Curie’ at Morrisons supermarket in Aberystwyth, raising an amazing £741.84

Alun Jones added: “The activities completed were very varied. I would definitely encourage businesses to offer volunteering opportunities to their staff where practical, as all the staff at Menter a Busnes who took part have felt great satisfaction in being able to make a small contribution to their communities.”

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Employers Encouraging Volunteering

Just because you have a full time job it doesn’t mean that you don’t have time to volunteer. You can volunteer in the evenings, on weekends or even give a week during your annual leave. But there are some companies that are encouraged to give their staff extra time off specifically to volunteer. Network Rail is one of the biggest companies that do this, and we wanted to know why.



Network Rail owns, operates and develops Britain’s railway infrastructure. Wales and Borders is one of eight areas of the rail network in Britain, with nearly 1,700 staff based in the area, and a headquarters in Cardiff.

They actively encourage their staff to volunteer, facilitated by BITC (Business in the Community Cymru). BITC works with businesses of all sizes and wants every business in Wales to behave responsibly and make a real difference to the people, economy and environment of Wales. We talked to Tracy Dickinson, head of human resources for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, to find out more.

Why encourage your staff to volunteer?
Volunteering is a powerful way to invest in local communities while supporting our employees’ personal development. It’s also a great way for people to acquire new skills and experience, and develop invaluable life skills.

We provide every employee with five days volunteer leave per year.

Are you keen that younger members of the staff get the chance to volunteer?
Yes we are. It’s an opportunity to get to know their local community and learn some new skills.

Olivia and Steffan
Network Rail staff Olivia Jones and Steffan Jones recently volunteered on a decorating project at the SHARE centre in Newport, which helps vulnerable and disadvantaged local communities.

‘We redecorated 3 rooms in the centre which really helped to freshen up the space that is used on a daily basis, and gave the community a nice environment to learn and also work in,’ explains Olivia.

‘The centre explained that they don’t receive a lot of funding for redecorating the rooms, and therefore really appreciated our input and hard work. We also raised enough money to buy stationary supplies for the centre, and had 2 large whiteboards donated from one of the Network Rail depots, which will help with the educational classes that take place.’

Steffan helped with planning the decorating project, going on scoping visits, completing risk assessments and calculating the materials needed. He is keen to volunteer again and will soon be taking part in a beach clean day.

Does volunteering make someone more employable?
We wanted to know if Olivia and Steffan thought that volunteering was something that would make an impression on future employers.

Olivia believes that it’s a big advantage.
‘I think volunteering definitely helps make you more employable as you learn valuable team building skills. We only had one day to complete the decorating so it was important to work together and communicate in order to get it completed in time,’ she says.

‘I also think that volunteering gives you an appreciation for the different types of work environments that exist, and allows you to see the variety of different workplaces that are available to you,’ adds Olivia.

And Steffan agrees.
‘It shows a drive to do something worthwhile, develop skills like teamwork, planning, communication, leadership etc. and shows that you are a rounded individual.

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Volunteer story:Change Step

Hi. My name is Jason and I am a veteran from Wrexham, North Wales. I served with the Royal Army Medical Corps and saw action in the first Gulf War. Due to this action I went on to suffer from PTSD. For years I struggled to get help and I used to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. My life was going nowhere and I went from job to job not caring about anything. That all changed when I was introduced to Change Step.

Jason1

Change Step is a peer mentoring service for military veterans who suffer with PTSD. The mentors are all veterans themselves and to me this is the reason why Change Step works so well.

I have been volunteering with Change Step now for 12 months and the change in me is amazing. The work they do is second to none in my opinion and I don’t know what I would be doing now without them.

Jason2

The Change Step peer mentors can help with signposting to different agencies and services, such as counselling, benefit agencies and substance misuse services. They can also find and offer training courses suitable to the individual. On top of that, they are there to offer support in any way they can. The mentors themselves have been through similar experiences to me  –  it was so easy to relate and get along with them, as you felt that they knew exactly what you had been through, and that they had come through the other end.

Change Step often organises volunteer events in the local community. In the past we have helped tidy-up war memorials for Remembrance Sunday. This gave me an immense sense of pride and it was a good feeling doing something for the community. This year we are aiming to tidy-up 700 of the 2,000 war graves across North Wales. Again, this gives me and the other volunteers a great sense of pride. We have also worked alongside the Costal Rangers tidying up coastal paths, planting trees and clearing overgrown areas. These volunteer days not only benefit the community, but they are also good fun. The volunteering is therapeutic and working as a team is really good for people’s morale. I have seen great changes in veterans who join Change Step, even after just a few weeks with us, and these volunteer days fill them with a sense of pride and raise their self-esteem. For some of them, it’s the first time they will have socialised with others for a long time.

Twelve months ago I had no lust for life, no goals and no real interest in myself. I didn’t socialise and did not like going out in public because of my PTSD . The counselling they offered was superb and I can now leave the house without the feelings I used to get. Since being part of Change Step I have been on numerous courses, countless volunteer days and I, and others around me, have noticed a great change in me. This change would not have happened if it wasn’t for Change Step and I am so grateful.

www.changestepwales.co.uk

CHANGE Step

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