Better Start Bradford Programme Director, Michaela Howell, reflects on the benefits of supporting your staff to volunteer.
“Mum, Brownies will close unless a mum can help out”.
This was what my 7 year old daughter shouted at me as she came running out of her Brownie group. Of course, I offered to help next week and 14 years later I was still involved in Girl Guiding, including setting up a group at my place of work.
I know the value of volunteering first-hand, having started my career volunteering at Women’s Aid, and I know that there are probably as many motivations for volunteering as there are volunteers (we currently have 97 in the Better Start Bradford programme) – but why might an employer offer paid time off during work hours to volunteer?
It can help to develop employees’ skills – at Better Start Bradford this has been most apparent through employees becoming school governors.
It can provide a hands-on, practical development opportunity in the community that is mutually beneficial and helps to strengthen working relationships. This has particularly been the case when joining a board or management committee with smaller community groups.
It can strengthen employee engagement and increase job satisfaction. Our employees really value being given a small amount of time as part of their paid time to follow their interests, offer their skills and experiences to others and to learn new things along the way.
It enables the voluntary and community sectors to access skills that may otherwise not be available/affordable to them. Better Start Bradford recognises that the long term sustainability of what we are trying to achieve will be supported by the strength within our communities. As such it is important that we support our communities in a variety of ways – employee volunteering is one of them.
I have volunteered throughout my adult life and know that it has helped make me the person I am now. I would also like to think that I have offered a valuable service to a range of people over the years and that I have encouraged others to freely give their time to support others.
If you are in a position to support your team/s to join the volunteering world, I hope you take the chance – it can be life changing.
By Michaela Howell, Director, Better Start Bradford
Find out more about volunteering with Better Start Bradford