31 May

City Giving Day participants share volunteer stories for National Volunteers' Week

To celebrate National Volunteers' Week, an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering in their communities, from 1-7th June, we asked City Giving Day participants to share their volunteering stories with us - from setting up corporate volunteer schemes to employee engagement.

Julie Tucker, PR & Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at BE Offices

Volunteering is integral to BE Offices’ CSR programme with staff given three days paid volunteer leave annually, something they see as a major benefit. In 2023 the company has seen exponential growth in take-up of volunteering opportunities with employees so far participating in weekly online literacy tutoring sessions with primary school children, beach clean-ups on the Thames foreshore and tree planting on Camden housing estates.

One member of staff, CSR Manager, Julie Tucker, in her capacity as a volunteer Cancer Campaigns Ambassador for Cancer Research UK has even attended a backbench debate in parliament on the government’s tobacco plan. She also volunteers her time on the steering groups of two City of London Business Improvement Districts and volunteers as an Air Quality Ambassador for Cross River Partnership. Julie comments: “Volunteering is something which enriches my life beyond measure, not just for the opportunity to support good causes but for the opportunities it affords to meet incredible people doing amazing things for others. I always wholeheartedly recommend volunteering to others and when they take my advice and participate in something, they are always so pleased that they did.”

One of the literacy programme volunteers commented: “I’m so lucky to have been given the opportunity to volunteer online for 30-minutes a week to help disadvantaged children improve their reading skills. I can't say enough about what a great experience this has been for me. It is fun and totally uplifting and I always look forward to the weekly sessions.

When you hear your pupil's voice, they are so excited to get going and really keen to learn. It’s so rewarding, and even more so when you see they are progressing and moving up to more advanced reading levels. You can hear in their voice that they are enjoying the sessions, so both parties are benefiting, which makes it even more special.

Reading with my pupil this year has given me the chance to switch off completely for half an hour during my working week, and it’s allowed me in a small but important way to fulfil a personal pledge to give back to the community.”

Commenting on her beach-cleaning experience, one employee said: “The overall experience was really rewarding and a great way to give back to the community. Litter picking on the riverbank really gave me an insight to how much waste sadly ends up in the river and the impact this has on wildlife. Also, just being by the water was a very calming and peaceful experience. I would totally recommend it to anyone.”

One of the tree planting volunteers commented: “Half-way through the day, two residents with small children came out to us and gave us a massive thank you – it absolutely made the rain, the heavy lifting and the muddiness worth it. At the end of the day, I walked away with a massive smile on my face, and I look forward to going back in a few years to see how the trees are coming along.”

Janice Phayre, Head of ESG and Responsible Business at Sapphire Systems Group

Volunteering is the reason I got involved in ESG. It's great when volunteers go in pairs, I love it when the pairs work in totally different areas and get a chance to meet each other for a few hours. Working from home has meant it’s hard to connect with people in the company that you don’t work with regularly, less people will meet their partner for life at the water cooler, catch each others eye over the computer monitor or go for Friday drinks. Volunteering is an opportunity to bring people together. 

We've had employees finding opportunities such as tree planting and urban gardening themselves outside of London, giving feedback that its nice to interact with the team outside of the formal work setting and give back to a worthwhile organisation. 90% of our employees who volunteer through us say it improves their opinion of the company and 80% have marked the experience as excellent. Earlier this year, one Sapphire employee was able to lead a training session with Afro-Brazilian youth from underprivileged backgrounds in Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil. The session provided these students with valuable RPA skills creating pathways for success in the tech industry in a country where black or mixed-race nationals make up 50% of the population but only 3% are in the tech industry. We believe in promoting diversity and inclusion to break down barriers and build a more equitable and representative tech industry. 

Now in its 10th year, City Giving Day is an annual event hosted by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal uniting the City to celebrate and promote the positive impact of philanthropy. Taking place on Tuesday 26 September 2023, it gives companies the chance to showcase their charitable and community work – collectively sharing their community outreach via the City Giving Day webpage and social media. Whether City businesses support The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, or their own chosen charities – it gives companies a platform to tell their fundraising and volunteering stories and to collaborate with other businesses within the City community.   

Register for City Giving Day here 

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