Chester firms are donating their time and skills to help community groups across the region.
“Firms are looking to give their time, rather than money at the moment,” says Luci Rampling of Chester Voluntary Action who co-ordinates several schemes which match the skills individual firms have to offer with suitable community groups and charities.
“Business people have a lot of skills to offer but don’t always know what they can do to help. On the other hand, there are lots of groups in need of help with things like IT. Often something that seems terribly simple to someone with the right kind of expertise, and therefore takes up very little of their time, can be absolutely invaluable to these groups.”
Luci says that the scheme has benefits for all involved. “It’s good for a company’s profile that they are helping the local community and it’s good for the staff involved as they really enjoy it and we always get good feedback. Not only are they helping other people but it’s good for team-building and for getting out of the office and doing something different.”
Luci recently organised the first of a series of Involve networking sessions which brought together local businesses and charities. “It’s a new kind of networking group which we are trying,” said Luci. “It was very successful. I think it is something we can build on. It gives businesses the opportunity to find out what’s going on in the community and how they can get involved. We are very pro-active about companies getting involved and have help from firms of all types and sizes.”
Luci also organises Business Aid events, which bring together local businesses and community groups. The next one is being held at Eaton Hall in June.
Another way that businesses can get involved is by becoming trustees on charity boards. “Business professionals have the kind of skills which are needed on a board,” explains Luci. “For instance, as charities get bigger they need specialist advice about things like HR but don’t have the money to pay for it.”
Sometimes charities have projects which simply need manpower and business people are rolling up their sleeves and helping out.
“Quite often staff prefer to do something different than their day-to-day job. They like to do something practical like painting or gardening,” says Luci.
Many local firms now allocate their staff several days off a year to help community groups as part of their corporate responsibility strategy.
“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” says Luci. “People really enjoy working on projects when, at the end of the day, they can look back and see what they have achieved. We even find that people give up their holidays to come and be involved.”
And with more than 450 community groups on her books, there is always something that needs doing.
Firms wanting to get involved can contact Luci on 01244 323527 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.