Everyone wants to be good and do their bit, but where do we start, and how do we find the time?
The last year has seen a boom in the amount of people looking to volunteer. YouthNet, home of the UK’s volunteering website do-it.org.uk, recorded a massive rise of 115% in the number of people applying to volunteer in 2008 compared to 2007.
Some volunteers are choosing to devote their time to good causes in order to help their quest for employment during the recession, while others are simply looking to give something back to the community and learn new skills. Whatever the reasons, volunteering is very much of the moment and a ‘win win’ for all involved.
Volunteering has long been a key part of large companies’ commitment to social responsibility. More creative, innovative, engaging and, most importantly, more fulfilling for employees than simply donating financially; the benefits are huge for all concerned.
One such company is Honda. As part of its long-established commitment to being a ‘company society wants to exist’; its philosophy revolves around doing (often small) things which make a big difference. Whether it’s creating a zero emission car, a motorcycle with an airbag or a generator to power an Antarctic expedition, the company is a team of ‘doers’.
Recently 60 Honda (UK) staff took a day out to help with three projects close to its headquarters near Slough in Berkshire. Over the day the team rejuvenated a nursery for people with learning disabilities and an allotment for people without gardens; as well as cleaning the depths and surroundings of the Slough Canal Basin...filling 40 refuse sacks and unearthing a mattress and plastic baby doll amongst other things!
Felicity McClintock, Volunteer Co-ordinator for British Waterways London, which looks after the canal appreciated the effort: “British Waterways is thrilled by the hard work and enthusiasm of Honda’s staff involved in the recent clean up event. We really appreciate the support of volunteers who give up their time to help us keep the waterways clean and tidy for all to enjoy. Every year we spend £100 million maintaining the UK’s canals and rivers, removing everything from aluminium cans to shopping trolleys from the water and towpaths.”
Emma Knight, who works for Honda (UK) and volunteered at Cherry Orchard Allotments said: “The team spirit was amazing. Everyone got stuck in, had a great laugh and thoroughly enjoyed giving something back to the local community. We all left with a great buzz and are still talking about it in the corridors. We can’t wait for the next time.” Just a week later a six-strong team from Honda’s PR department successfully braved the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing more than 11,000 feet in (26.5 hours) to raise more than £3100 for Child Bereavement Charity, BEN.
That’s just 66 staff, in one company, taking a day out each in just a two week period...little things adding up to big things, remember?
So how do you become a doer? A good place to start is your local Volunteer Centre (link to: http://www.do-it.org.uk/wanttovolunteer/aboutvolunteering/vcfinder) where you can find out about opportunities in your area... Another route is the website, do-it.org.uk, where you can search a UK wide database of volunteering opportunities. do-it.org.uk receives more than 35,000 applications each month from volunteers looking to be matched with one of its one million plus opportunities to volunteer.
Extending out its ‘Doer’ attitude nationwide, Honda UK has recently teamed up with do-it.org.uk to as part of its launch campaign for the Honda Insight hybrid car – carrying the strapline ‘Everybody wants to be good’. The company has put a special volunteering search tool on its web site, Honda.co.uk, which matches volunteers to environmental projects looking for support. Honda is also asking each of its dealers to nominate a local or national environmental charity – to which it will donate £5 for every Insight test drive taken. As Ian Armstrong, Marketing Manager for Honda UK puts it: “This is an extremely positive and optimistic initiative, helping the wider community...real action and real results.”
So visit the web site in the advertisement below; and in the words of Honda’s recent ‘doer’ advertisement...”Let’s go do, keep doing and do some more. Start a to-do list. Because there’s a million and one ‘do’s’ still to be done.”