On 24 March a group of staff from Leeds City Council Customer Services team undertook a team volunteering day at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm.
This was part of the Business Doing Good in Leeds Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) partnership programme between Voluntary Action Leeds and Leeds City Council.
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm (MVUF), a registered charity, was established in 1980 to provide services to inner city communities. From the Farm’s humble beginnings operating from two old caravans, it has grown into a 24 acre site. It’s not only a working farm with a wide variety of animals, but also a major centre for community and environmental work.
The Council employees who came out showed real graft and positivity through sun, rain and hail on a mixed Spring day. The employees were also helped out on the day by the Volunteer Coordinator for MVUF, David Jeffries and a couple of regular volunteers at the Farm. The task for the day was to dig and weed a patch of land (about 15m x 5m in size) on the farm to prepare it and make it suitable for planting vegetables that would in turn be sold at the farm.
This wasn’t just weeding though, David Jeffries explained the difference between the different types of weeds and roots which could be used again in the future for compost and other things so an additional task for the volunteers was to separate what could be recycled with what wasn’t suitable for future use.
David also made sure the volunteers knew how beneficial their time was for a charity like MVUF and the volunteers had a real sense of purpose and determination as a result. Over around 6 hours of volunteering the small team covered a lot of ground fuelled by tea, coffee, soups and sandwiches in the lovely Community Café at MVUF.
The volunteers really enjoyed the day for the positive impact they were making in the community, the friendly atmosphere and the chance to do something out of the normal work environs. And who wouldn't like the opportunity to feed new born lambs and sheep as instructed by David as a nice starter to the day! And all just a km or so outside the city centre and the Council offices where staff are usually based on a Tuesday morning!
But really, this day highlighted the benefits of the ESV scheme both for the third sector organisation in terms of the invaluable resource of the employees' time and for the Council staff in terms of getting out and helping in the community and also the enjoyment and morale gained. Two of the volunteers liked it so much that they enquired about how they could volunteer again at MVUF on an individual basis in their spare time. This was the first LCC team out on a team ‘Community Challenge’ volunteering team day this year.
There will be plenty more opportunities for Council staff to volunteer over the coming months especially during the month of volunteering beginning on 11 May.
And if you are a third sector organisation looking for teams of volunteers for days like this please get in touch with Sonja and Brendan at email@example.com. We will leave you with a quote from LCC employee, Josette Ward who had the following to say about the day at MVUF:
Though a busy day, I really enjoyed every minute. It was good to work with other staff from my department that I would not normally work with. We actually exchanged a lot of information, and made some useful contacts. I benefited from seeing the work of the farm first hand, and returned to work able to pass this on to my team of staff who need to refer customers for volunteering work, and also advise customers of social activities. I was motivated to find out more about the Farm and visit more myself.