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.”
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.‘
We’ve just launched a brand-new charter to champion good practice in youth volunteering and social action in Wales!
The Youth Volunteering and Social Action Charter sets out a number of commitments encouraging organisations to provide the best possible social action and volunteering experiences for young people. The charter also outlines expectations for young people that take part in these experiences.
How the charter was created
The charter was developed by The Welsh Centre for International Affairs on behalf of WCVA for the third sector in Wales. It has been developed based on insight gathered from young people and youth volunteering stakeholders in Wales.
The charter builds on the nine key principles of the former Millennium Volunteer initiative, which recognised and rewarded youth volunteering, and the six principles of the UK wide #iwill campaign for youth social action.
What is the charter for?
This set of principles is intended to help improve the practice of organisations that already involve young people in social action or volunteering, and those that are working towards improving the diversity of their organisation by involving younger people.
The Charter also provides a helpful guide to what organisations can reasonably expect from the young people that get involved.
It is anticipated that organisations that agree to embed the charter’s commitments will use the charter to demonstrate to current and prospective young people that they are champions of positive practice in their approach to youth social action and volunteering.
WCVA Chief Executive, Ruth
‘Energy, enthusiasm and commitment are always present when young people volunteer – this Charter makes some great commitments and I hope it will encourage more social action.’
Gillian Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of Step Up To Serve:
‘This Youth Volunteering and Social Action Charter will help young people to identify the organisations across Wales that offer great opportunities and place young people at the heart of their decision making.
‘The #iwill campaign is proud to see so many high-quality
opportunities for young people in Wales and a steady growth year on
year. We are delighted during #iwill Week, to be able to
celebrate the work done with young people, by WCVA and their
partners, to develop this charter.’
To download your copy of the Charter please click here
To receive a hard copy of the Charter to display please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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