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corporate volunteering in manchester

600 volunteers transform Old Trafford alleyways

Posted on 14 October 2016

MSD is a leading healthcare company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of innovative pharmaceutical products to make a difference to human health and animal health. As part of their 125th anniversary celebrations, they have asked their employees to make a difference to people all over the world through their employee volunteering programme and earlier this month they brought 600 of their UK staff together to team up with Groundwork MSSTT and do something good for a local community in Old Trafford.


As a charity that receives numerous requests from companies looking for large team days, we know MSD are not unique in their ambition to involve hundreds of their staff in one day. We also know it’s not easy to identify opportunities for such large teams and that many laudable propositions fall at hurdles along the way. However, MSD’s dramatic transformation of ten alleyways on four streets in just one day showed how such a super-size team can be successfully mobilised to make a huge impact on a local neighbourhood.

This employee volunteering event was part of a two-day gathering for MSD staff, which was managed by events company, Pi Live. The volunteering day was designed so staff could give something back to a local community in need through ‘a random act of kindness’, and was followed by a well-deserved evening social. The next day, staff had the opportunity to learn more about looking after their own personal wellbeing, including mindfulness sessions.

A major challenge for a team of this size was communicating exactly what staff were going to get out of the day as well as what was needed from each of them, especially as details of the event were kept secret until the day began. Staff were organised into mini teams and given a detailed information pack that included design plans, an action list, a materials and equipment inventory, and details of their alley manager in case of any problems. The mini teams were then free to decide how exactly they should go about their allocated tasks, ensuring that everyone had something to do, no matter their skills and abilities and that delays and errors were kept to a minimum.

This effective organisation, as well as masses of enthusiasm from all the staff, meant that all tasks – including the installation of 1328 planters, 3327 plants, and 142 bird and bug houses amongst many others – were completed in time.

Although the sheer number of people really was a sight to be seen, all the staff volunteers had a great day and received so much positive feedback from residents, some of whom couldn’t wait for the day to be over before coming out to try their new space.

Employees really appreciated being able to make a difference on such a scale and the hope is that it might inspire people to start their own community improvement projects when they get back home – although maybe not on quite a dramatic scale!

MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ., USA.


Find out more about environmental volunteering with Groundwork

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