Corporates and Charities in Leeds - A Blossoming Relationship

Sometimes it’s good to just reflect on some of the positive things that have been happening in Leeds, and good things have been happening at ESV Leeds.

Picture of volunteers

Although 2016 has brought lots of change on the political and social landscape, charities and community groups continue to need support from the usual sources such as funders, the local authority, and volunteers. We are also finding that third sector organisations are seeing the benefit of support that businesses in the city can provide. Although businesses have their own worries with all the year’s seismic changes, helping out in the community is still a high priority for many. This is where the ESV Leeds team come in and so far this year we have continued to organise volunteering opportunities for our existing corporate partners as well new businesses with both new and existing third sector organisations across Leeds.

All Areas and Activities

Corporate volunteers who have come through ESV Leeds have made an impact across many different areas in the city, from a newly established food growing social enterprises at Red Hall, to charities working with elderly people in the Hawksworth estate, to community organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers in Richmond Hill. We are always looking for charities across the city to help out. We don’t have a focus on a particular area but just want to accommodate as many charities in as many parts of the city as possible. Volunteers have helped with activities such as serving food and befriending at elderly lunch clubs, packing and sorting donations at food banks and gardening and painting at community centres.

Motivated and Skilled Volunteers

The motivation that corporate volunteers show on community challenge team days really is impressive. For example, staff from the Department of Health took part in a signing and music session with the residents while volunteering at a luncheon club for elderly people in Hawksworth and have since gone back to do some gardening work. ESV volunteers often volunteer alongside the charities’ regular volunteers, who are so welcoming that it makes the experience all the better. The corporates are often effusive in their praise for the volunteers in return. While these team community challenges are the most popular, we are still pushing the Skills Share type of volunteering. For example, there was the team of Asda staff from the product placement team who used their skills to help rearrange a local charity shop in Hunslet to make it more attractive to their customers.

New and Existing Corporate Partners

We are delighted to have worked with a few new businesses and statutory organisation this year such as the Department of Health, Unilever and the IP Group to organise volunteering for their staff. Each business brings new skills to the table and are keen to offer their support to the Third Sector, which we do our best to facilitate. We have also continued our partnership with Asda coordinating volunteer opportunities for their staff based at Asda House. Over the last couple of years, hundreds of Asda staff have volunteered with almost 50 charities across the city. We are still yet to see the government’s pledge from last year's election manifesto, of 3 days paid special leave for large businesses to volunteer in the community come into play, but what we are finding is that most businesses have some sort of ESV policy to encourage their staff to volunteer on at least one day a year during work time. While some people may still be slightly cynical about employee volunteering that it is all just done as a PR exercise, in the ESV Leeds team we can honestly say that those that come out to volunteer do so with the right intention and have a rewarding experience. It’s always great to be able to help broker more positive relationships and to increase the understanding of the Third Sector among businesses.

If you are a charity looking for some volunteer support with specific skills or tasks or a business looking to volunteer in the community please get in touch with Sonja and Brendan on esv@val.org.uk or 0113 213 2592.

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