Futures Staff Get Stuck in to Volunteering Programme

30th May, 2022 Read time: 5 min

Did you know that 90% of volunteers feel that they’ve made a difference to someone’s life? How about that over three quarters of volunteers report an improvement in their mental health and wellbeing? Or that 84% of volunteers say it has helped to improve their confidence?

These are just some of the findings from the NCVO’s Time Well Spent survey, which digs into the volunteering experience in the UK.  

When we think about the incredible positive impact of volunteering on both those doing the volunteering and those receiving support, we can’t help but think of how well the practice lines up with our own values: having passion, doing the right thing, and making a difference. That’s why we introduced the Volunteering Programme to Futures – encouraging every member of staff to use one day of work a year volunteering for a charity or cause of their choice.  

The programme is for everyone – from our CEO, whose volunteering day with ShareWear Clothing has developed into a company-wide drive for donating clothes to those in need, to every member of staff who wants to make a difference.  

Volunteering can come in all shapes and sizes, and to celebrate Volunteer Week and the fantastic Futures volunteers who have already gone out and made a difference in their community, we’re sharing some of their stories below:  

 

Kay Hopkins-Burton – Customer Service Assistant 

I volunteered for Nottingham Hospitals charity on their Christmas tree recycling event on Friday 7th January. I worked alongside Joanne, collecting Christmas trees from families in the West Bridgford area in a van that had been donated for our use by a local company.   

The photo on the right shows the first full van of 14 trees, which were taken to a farm in Bramcote. The other photo shows me amongst the trees (having been buried) on our second load, which comprised of 19 trees.    

Once at the farm, the trees were chipped and will be used as mulch on the farm itself.  

The event raised £11,000.00 for the Nottingham Hospitals Charity. I had a great day, whilst doing something worthwhile, and am hoping to be involved again this year. 

 

Ian Woodall – Head of Business Development 

Deciding on a volunteering opportunity as a development exercise was hard, but I thought it important to challenge myself.  I wanted to do something front line, because for a business development person it is important to see what delivering a service looked like in human terms. I also wanted to go in without any preconceptions so something out of our sector might be a good idea. I also wanted whatever I did to make a difference. In the end I found a chance to work with a local church charity to deliver hot food on Christmas Eve.   

I was a dispatch driver, so I took the food right to people’s doors. My town has real pockets of deprivation and I thought I would be spending my day shuttling between a couple of estates. This was not so. I met isolated people in well to do areas and middle-income families in up-and-coming estates who were struggling to make ends meet after their jobs had changed because of Covid 19.  I particularly recall couple of people from drug rehabilitation schemes who I met at the door of the charity helping them.   

The learning for me is that “need” really is particular to the individual. Everyone I met had personalised circumstances. Everyone’s journey was different, and would be after our intervention. So personalisation in services like ours isn’t just a slogan. We live it, and rightly so.  I have to admit I get a bit moist eyed now whenever I hear Amanda talking about personalised careers journeys. You don’t realise how much that matters until you see what a front-line service dealing with people who need help really does.  

That’s what volunteering gave me.

 

Fran Parish – Careers Adviser in Norfolk & Suffolk  

There was so much I could have used my day for within my community.  I chose to support IP17 GNS, a charity that sprung up during the pandemic to support those with a need in the community. I joined a group of people to cook Christmas Dinners for 180 people, the operation included dishing them up into individual trays, sealing and freezing ready for Christmas day. We filled the spare hour of the day packing up sweets, ready for the Christmas sleigh run. 

My day turned into more volunteering in my own time, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, expanded my network within the community again, which I think I had lost a bit along the previous years.  

I accompanied the sleigh run giving out sweets to all the local community children, it really lifted spirits and we ended up on the 6 o'clock Anglian News as a good news story, as well as on the East Anglian Daily News website. 

Following this was the best day - Christmas morning. We gathered in the market hall where we were given 6 – 10 delivery addresses and we were armed with goody bags containing the 3-course Christmas dinner, cracker, present and a drink.  Visiting people with these gifts on Christmas morning and talking with those living alone, was the best Christmas morning I have had in a long while. 

I am definitely up for this next year too! 

 

One of our IAPT Employment Advisers 

I chose to do my volunteering day at Stonebridge City Farm on the edge of Nottingham City Centre. It is a lovely small and friendly farm that welcomes visitors and volunteers from across the community as well as some paid job roles. I chose this as an opportunity to spend time outdoors in nature for a wellbeing screen break. 

Stonebridge City Farm offers opportunities for groups and individuals with a diverse range of needs to visit and also to volunteer on different projects ranging from animal care and maintenance, vegetable/ gardening, working in the farm shop selling the veg and plants they have produced, assisting in the café as well as guiding visiting groups. 

It is a small-scale farm with a few goats, couple of sheep, pigs' cows and ponies, many rabbits and guinea pigs, geese, chickens, turkeys and an aviary. 

I was very happy to be offered the opportunity to work on the animal side as I had previous experience in this area and I enjoyed getting stuck in straight away working with a team of other long-term volunteers mucking out stables and animal pens, feeding, watering and grooming the animals. 

There were lots of breaks in the day, so I had an opportunity to get to know other members of the team that came from a range of backgrounds including students studying for a degree in animal related care. I took the opportunity to offer some employment coaching and signpost to Futures with a couple of students during the lunchtime as they had said they were unclear of their next career steps. 

This was a great wellbeing experience, being outdoors, doing physical work, working with animals was a welcome break from sitting at a screen. 

The farm offer opportunities for individuals to volunteer and additionally, they offer corporate team volunteer days, for a contribution of £100. 

I really enjoyed my day and would love to do it again, especially when the weather is warmer! I am really grateful for the opportunity that Futures provided to get out and do something new and make a difference. 

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