Since the outbreak of COVID-19, communities and businesses across Wales have worked in new ways to support people as they face the many direct and indirect challenges posed by the pandemic.
Sue Husband of Business in the Community Cymru shares examples of the contribution made by businesses during this period and highlights the value of employee volunteering.
Having launched the National Business Response Network (with the support of founding partners AXA UK, and the London Stock Exchange Group) in April 2020, Business in the Community Cymru has been inspired by the adaptability shown by businesses and their employees as they tackle the impacts of the crisis. Underpinning each of the more than 600 matches made across the UK in this time have been the efforts of employee volunteers working outside of their usual remit to make positive local changes. BITC Cymru would like to thank all member and non-member businesses for their contributions of time, talent, and expertise, during not only the pandemic, but also the last 12 months.
How our members have been helping
This flexibility has enabled businesses and employee volunteers to meet local needs both in the immediate, urgent manner so desperately required, but also with a focus on longer-term sustainability. Some employers have made proactive alterations to existing volunteering policies to encourage staff to contribute to local and nationwide efforts. In the early weeks of the crisis, industrial services provider the E. G. Lewis Group, based in Neath, allowed an employee use of company time and vehicle to support the delivery of essential health supplies in the local area. More recently, staff members working in South Wales with infrastructure business Costain have made large deliveries of protective equipment to hospitals.
Why employee volunteering matters
Employee volunteering is a crucial part of any responsible business strategy. The benefits include increased employee engagement, better employee wellbeing, retention and recruitment of talent, and learning and development opportunities. Furthermore, strategic volunteering, aligned to your core business and utilising employee’s skills, can create lasting impact in the community, building sustainability and resilience for the long-term. Many of the business’s volunteers participating in the Business Class programme in Wales help to pass on vital skills, experience, and confidence to children and young people, all whilst gaining valuable personal and career experience themselves.
Employee volunteering post COVID-19
Whilst COVID-19 has resulted in postponing or cancelling traditional ‘face-to-face’ volunteering, this is an opportunity for businesses to rethink how they deliver ongoing support. For example, businesses working with charity partners can offer new, skills-based capacity, expertise on boards and committees, and technical support and advice that could otherwise be out of reach for smaller charities, such as moving established programmes online.
Felicitie Walls, the Volunteering Manager at WCVA encourages businesses to ‘start with the end in mind’. Felicitie explains that ‘by understanding the challenges faced by the communities and the problems they are trying to overcome, businesses and their employees can be better prepared to give their time in resources in ways that really matter and collectively the business and the receiving community can make a bigger difference together’.
For more information
There is a range of up to date advice and support available for businesses looking to develop their employee supported volunteering programmes on the Business in the Community website. A specific factsheet has been produced to help guide employers through the support they can offer to employees during COVID-19, available here – https://www.bitc.org.uk/fact-sheet/covid-19-volunteering-during-the-pandemic/
Today, Third Sector Support Wales (TSSW) are also pleased to announce the relaunch of the Employer Supported Volunteer information sheet.
If anyone reading this blog would like to start searching today for their next volunteering opportunity please visit www.volunteering-wales.net