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Volunteering News

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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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