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Hi everyone, my name is Brendan Tannam. I am the new Support Worker for VAL working in partnership with Leeds City Council (LCC).
My role is to encourage LCC staff to take up the 10 hours paid time off work a year that all employees are entitled to claim and set up volunteering opportunities with third sector organisations. Last year VAL set up the Businesses Doing Good programme in Leeds to support and develop Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) opportunities between businesses, statutory organisations and the Third Sector. Of which I’m delighted to say that LCC are now one of those statutory organisations! We also received the good news recently that Asda have signed up for the programme again in 2015.
Whatever services third sector organisations provide – from supporting the elderly, to helping out with people with disabilities or taking care of community green spaces, there are thousands of employees out there looking to help. If you are a third sector organisation interested in the scheme just let Sonja and myself in the team know and we will match you with suitable employees. Likewise if you are a business or statutory organisation looking to help in the community just get in touch and we will match you with a suitable third sector organisation from the connections we have build up over the years.
Most people will probably have experienced or at least heard of the benefits of volunteering by now – but just to recap how it really is a ‘win-win’ situation for all involved: Employees gain both personal and professional development; it is a chance for staff to learn new skills or demonstrate skills that they wouldn’t normally be able to in the workplace; it has been proven to increase morale and reduce stress i.e. it makes staff feel good!; and lastly and most importantly it makes a tremendous difference to the community and the third sector organisations. As part of the Businesses Doing Good programme we can organise both individual ‘skills share’ opportunities where staff can go into voluntary organisations and teach them new professional skills for example in marketing, IT, policy making or bid writing and also ‘Community Challenge’ team days out such as the one at Kirkstall Community Garden where a team from LCC built a chicken coop in a day!
My Volunteering Experience
What really excites me about this new role working on the Businesses Doing Good programme is that hopefully I can use my enthusiasm for and knowledge of volunteering in my day to day work. Throughout my career to date I have always volunteered outside of work. If only there had been an Employer Supported Volunteering scheme that I could have had access to! Two volunteering experiences to date really stand out for me. Firstly was my time in Dublin as a Co-ordinator of a homeless soup run for the Dublin Simon Community organisation. This was an eye-opening, at times sad experience but ultimately really worthwhile and enjoyable. Meeting such a lovely bunch of other volunteers of all different ages and backgrounds was a highlight but the best part were the chats that I would have with the homeless people themselves. The soup and sandwiches we provided were just a means of doing what really counted the most to the service users – having a nice chinwag with them and letting them know the help that was out there for them to access. My reasons for volunteering were quite simple in the first place, I felt I had a care-free upbringing and I wanted to be able help those in need who didn’t have the same opportunities and luck as perhaps I did.
My current volunteering is as Chair of the York Irish Association. I set up the group last year with the aims of celebrating Irish culture and tradition and bringing the Irish community, descendants of Irish people and anyone with an interest in all things Irish together in the city. From our first meeting in June 2014 we now hold monthly activities such as traditional music nights, history talks and Irish language nights. What I love about my volunteering with York Irish is that it really does feel like a labour of love. Members tell me that they that love that there is somewhere for them to go, meet new people and express their culture and identity and this means a lot to me.
You’re a Great Bunch!
It has been inspiring to read about some of the brilliant, worthwhile and varied volunteering that employees already do when volunteering with third sector organisations in Leeds and further afield. Our aim is to encourage volunteering across the city in general and to increase the amount of this that is done through Employer Supported Volunteering. It’s also important to let the rest of the country know just how good we do it in Leeds!
What Happens Next
If you are interested in taking part in the Businesses Doing Good programme either as a business with employees looking to volunteer or a third sector organisation looking to host volunteering opportunities, it’s really easy to get involved — just email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest. Also look out for our dedicated ESV webpage which we are currently building and will be live on the Doing Good Leeds website soon.