Speaking at conference hosted by Allied Dunbar in Swindon on July 17, HRH The Prince of Wales called on companies to unlock the power of their employees’ time and professional skills in the service of community projects. Also speaking were Sandy Leitch, Allied Dunbar’s Deputy Chairman and John Crewe, Managing Director of American Express UK. The day included workshops, visits to local schemes and the launch of a new handbook on employee involvement.
July 17 also saw the culmination of the National Challenge, in which companies fielded teams of employees and their families to undertake a specific community project within 24 hours. According to returns collated by Business in the Community, at least 400 schemes took place with over 4,000 individual employees participating. The Post Office alone organised 106. Contact Amanda Bowman, BITC, on 071 925 2899.
Whitbread has sponsored a new guide to employee volunteering to replace its three part pack first produced in 1990. Understanding Employee Volunteering has been completely re-written and is published by Business in the Community and The Volunteer Centre UK as part of the Employees in the Community Initiative. It covers the potential benefits, types of schemes and ways to develop them, likely costings and case studies. Available free of charge from BITC on 071 925 2899 or The Volunteer Centre UK on 0442 873311.
Also published for the Employees in the Community Initiative is a handbook Making the Most of Employee Community Involved. Published by The Volunteer Centre with sponsorship from BT, this was written by Jo Paton and is primarily aimed at community groups to make best use of employees volunteering. This comprehensive handbook covers the possible types of scheme, the motivations and barriers to success, a how-to-do-it section and good practice guides. Available from The Volunteer Centre UK price £4 29 Lower King’s Road, Berkhamsted, Herts HP4 2AB phone 0442 873311.
Over one thousand events were held during the UK Volunteers Week in June 1-7. 5,000 information packs, sponsored by Prudential, were issued and a special information line, publicised frequently during the week on Radio Two, received nearly 3,000 calls. The Volunteer Centre UK, who organised the week with support from the Home Office and WH Smith, believe that many people were introduced to volunteering for the first time as a result. Contact Sheila Edwin, Volunteer Centre UK, on 0442 873311.
Older people are keen to volunteer, but need to be asked, according to a survey conducted by CSV’s Retired Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) and published on June 29. Sponsored by Legal and General and based on a national sample of people over 50, the survey tested motivations and barriers to increased volunteering. Of those currently offering time, 80% say they get satisfaction out of doing something worthwhile, and 40% they have fun. Of those not active, nearly half say they would consider it, if the obstacles could be overcome. RSVP links up with employers to contact and involve pre-retirees at an early stage. Contact Janet Atfield on 071 278 6601.
Help the Aged have teamed up with Tunstall Telecom to run an awards scheme for the over 65s. Awards are on offer in eight categories for individuals who are active in retirement, for example in serving the community, working with youth, or volunteering abroad. Nominations close on July 31 and the presentations will be made in November, probably by HRH The princess of Wales. Contact Sue Dorrington on 071 253 2926.
Whitbread has seconded its employee volunteering specialist, Christine de Cruz, to WH Smith to assist in setting up community involvement programmes. The secondment, a novel example of inter-company cooperation, will run for three months in the autumn on a one- or two-day per week basis. Contact Ian Anderson, Whitbread, on 071 606 4455
It would have been hard to miss, during June and July, the Employee in the Community initiative! The effort put in by the main partnership agencies, backed by resources from a few prominent companies and the Home Office, paid off in terms of events and publications. We have to wait for a year or so to see whether the end result has been the quantum leap in volunteering hoped for.
The latest survey, conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation and covering the year to August 1991, shows the small increase in the numbers volunteering cancelled out by a drop in the time offered. (See Charities News Round-up below.) Meanwhile the demands on the voluntary sector grow and the evidence is that more people would volunteer, if only someone asked them. Hence the push to use the workplace as a recruiting ground.
Community affairs programmes can gain greater scope and impact through employees time, at little extra cost. But some caution is needed: companies already place heavy demands on their staff; if they are felt to intrude forcibly into private time, usually spent with families, the result can hinder, not help, staff motivation.
Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 5 – June, 1992