Corporate volunteering groups make a huge difference at Amelia Trust.
With such a big site and such a small team of staff, we welcome corporate groups of volunteers who can dedicate several hours (or even a full day!) to helping us take care of our lovely countryside sanctuary.
Neil, our Site Manager and Caretaker, will often have large tasks in mind that are perfect for corporate volunteering groups. Tasks that would usually take days can be completed quickly and efficiently when larger groups are available.
Our unique countryside setting is very popular, and lots of our corporate volunteers enjoy getting out of the office to spend a day outside. Once a group visits the Farm, we often find that they come back again and again!
As well as giving the Farm a huge boost, we love seeing how much being onsite can benefit individuals and their wider teams. The benefits of being outside are endless and getting stuck into a physical task can give volunteers a chance to chat and catch up in a more relaxed way than in the office. You’ll learn a lot more about your colleagues when you’re covered in mud than when you’re sitting at a desk!
A change of scenery can be wonderful for helping groups to bond.
Companies House in Cardiff have supported Amelia Trust for several years. We wanted to find out why they choose to volunteer at the Farm and why they feel corporate volunteering is so important.
We spoke to Leanne, who is the Community Liaison Manager/Corporate Social Responsibility for the organisation and frequently sends groups to the Farm.
Why did you initially choose Amelia Trust for corporate volunteering?
Companies House were introduced to Amelia Trust a few years ago by shout out on social media I think! We started that relationship by sending out a few staff to come along and help. Everyone who went enjoyed the mixed variety of jobs that you needed help with – so every day and every experience was different.
We have a couple of regular outdoor activities and this falls in line with our business goals in our Environmental part of the Companies House Strategy: being involved in conservation and helping to increase biodiversity and nature.
How much did you know about the Farm before deciding to send corporate volunteer groups to us?
We knew as much about the Farm as what was on the website. We learnt more about the GROW programme and the other charities based at Amelia Trust while we were there.
Do you think the volunteering you offer staff has become more popular since the pandemic hit?
Companies House always had a great engagement with staff in volunteering. The March that the pandemic hit, we had already hit our highest ever number of volunteers for that year… We could have easily sent out another 50 or more, but they were cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreak.
When we could open up cautiously in outdoor spaces with social distancing, we found that volunteering really helped with the staff social wellbeing. It was an opportunity to meet face to face when Companies House staff were still not allowed back on site. It created a chance for staff who had joined during the pandemic to meet their team in person, and it was a place to come and meet when people were feeling very lonely or isolated.
The wellbeing factors around being outdoors, seeing people, being around nature and animals is all well documented, so we were targeting teams to think of volunteering as a way to reconnect the staff. Compared to before the pandemic, we were only hitting about 25% of what we were in terms of volunteering numbers from before the pandemic, but we only had a limited number of outdoor, safe opportunities. In that respect I feel it has been well received and popular since the pandemic.
Is there anything in particular that volunteers have said they enjoy the most about visiting Amelia Trust?
Companies House staff (nicknamed the #PurpleArmy due to the corporate volunteering purple t-shirts) have said they love seeing how their work makes a difference.
Our cultural work “behaviours” are to be Adaptable, Bold & Curious (ABC’s). The staff show that during their time on the Farm by asking questions, offering to suggestions and working as a great team to get as much of the task completed for Neil in the time they have. They enjoy being together during the day too. It’s a chance to find out “more” about each other- loved ones, pets, holidays, interests – that sometimes can go unasked over a virtual catch up!
Why do you think volunteering is so important?
Companies House has a huge belief in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy to enable them – as a government agency – to be a Responsible Business. We do this by enabling the 4 pillars of CSR to Environment, Finance, People and Community.
By giving our staff 3 days a year to volunteer, it supports the “Environmental” goal of encouraging nature and biodiversity. It supports the “People” under social wellbeing and mental health benefits. Under “Community”, it shows that Companies House care about the local and wider community and want to give back to improve and engage with the people and places around us.
We are a government agency, so any fundraising is done by staff and as we have no budget for financial donations. But we do have 3 days a year to volunteer and we hope (well, we know) that this can make a huge difference to local groups and charities in many ways.
We have supplied staff for physical activities and staff who have specific professions or experience go out and volunteer their time and expertise (great for use of skills and skill transfer). We also use it as team building days to bring groups of staff together before and after big projects to help them gel as a team. The volunteering scheme at Companies House offers multiple benefits to the charities, to the staff, but also means a more responsible and ethical business that stakeholders want to do business with.
We are incredibly grateful to Companies House and all of our other corporate volunteering groups for all the hard work and time your volunteers put into Amelia Trust. Thank you!
As well as sending volunteers, many organisations will also help by providing their services or materials as a donation to the Farm. Recently, Barratt Homes have helped us with a drainage issue and animal housing, and Pier Consulting sourced and delivered wooden pallets to the Farm.
If your organisation is looking for new volunteering opportunities or ways to enhance your corporate social responsibility strategy, we can cater to groups of all sizes, and we would love to welcome you to the Farm.