On a very warm afternoon last week, seven members of our Executive and Senior Management team returned to the ActivLives ‘ActivGarden’, having first volunteered there for an afternoon back in August of last year.
Activlives are a local charity operating in and around Ipswich who provide support for people with mental health issues, loneliness and social exclusion, and help those individuals to gain work-related skills, learning and training with the eventual aim of gaining employment. Their garden on Halifax Road, Ipswich, consists of several acres of land featuring a whole host of areas such as allotments, orchards and even beehives – as well as a community café and kitchen and a shed for building on DIY and construction skills.
Once we were welcomed to the site, it was time to get to work. We each chose a task, breaking off into smaller groups as we assisted with some groundwork, tree planting and general maintenance – and even a bit of (rather amateur) shed painting in my case! It was fantastic to be able to get stuck in and support some of the vital work that Activlives do in our community, and also a welcome opportunity to get out of the office and live the values on which we as a Society pride ourselves – fairness, responsibility and communities at heart.
Volunteering is an essential part of our ambition to be a leading responsible business and, as such, we encourage all staff to spend half a day per month volunteering for a cause close to their hearts: a benefit that more than half of our staff have taken advantage of in the past. Last year we donated over 1,000 staff hours to regional and national charitable organisations.
ActivLives are an expanding charity and always looking for groups of volunteers interested in giving back to the community and taking part in a bit of team-building. It was a hugely rewarding afternoon out and I hope to return soon – albeit perhaps once the weather has cooled down a bit!