June 1 – 7 was Volunteers’ Week and an opportunity for volunteers to be recognised and their achievements acknowledged. Volunteering is big business in Britain; between 2009 and 2010, 40 per cent of adults volunteered formally (volunteers associated with a club/organisation), contributing an estimated £22.7bn to the economy (Source: UK Civil Society Almanac)*.
Nineteen volunteers from RWE npower’s offices in Swindon have recently helped with sprucing up the garden at Koalas Opportunity Group in Salt Way Centre. Koalas is a local playgroup for children with special needs and their siblings; it provides children with a safe and friendly environment in which to play. The volunteers got stuck into clearing and weeding the garden, including a particularly overgrown area in and around the pond. They sanded and varnished outdoor furniture and repaired the gate posts near the pond.
Liz Briggs, the project’s team leader is delighted with the results, saying, “We had a great time; working outdoors was wonderful and we had to work as a team to ensure we completed as many tasks as possible. We were motivated by the opportunity to give something to other people and provide a safe space outside for these young children to play in, and that kept us going ‘til the end of the day. We hope to volunteer again soon and I can personally recommend it to anyone who is toying with the idea of giving volunteering a go.”
Ruth Billington, npower’s charity and volunteering delivery manager, knows that volunteering benefits both partners, saying, “We monitor the responses of participants and venues and data shows that in 2010, 40 projects (69 per cent) said that without our help, the tasks would not have been completed. The average cost to the venue for materials etc. was just £143. One of the benefits to npower is a team-leading training day that provides opportunities for the development of individual confidence, communication and problem-solving skills.
npower’s volunteering programme has been active over the past ten years; it has involved 4,604 people, who have contributed nearly 34,000 hours of their time to helping their local communities, broadly within the sectors of education, environment and health, as part of the organisation’s Employee Involvement Programme. Of the entire workforce, around 14 per cent volunteered last year, with a target of 15 per cent set for the end of 2012.
npower encourages all its employees to take on volunteering tasks to benefit local communities and the day was run in conjunction with CSV (Community Service Volunteers), who deliver the employee volunteer programme for RWE npower.