As part of International Volunteer Day, Ben Dwyer, Groundwork’s Corporate Partnerships Team Lead in London, reflects on the impact that corporate volunteering has in supporting Groundwork to help local people and places thrive.
We facilitate events all over London, improving green spaces and places.
A Groundwork project could be anything from renovating a community garden to habitat management and improving local biodiversity. These are the projects that our corporate volunteers have the opportunity to support us with, including working alongside community groups that need an extra pair of hands with clearance or path-laying. The support from the corporate organisations we work with means that we can do more, utilising the energy and enthusiasm from their employee volunteers.
They’ve got the right kind of commitment and energy, and they’ll give it a really good go.
The progression of confidence throughout the day is really interesting to see and by the end, a lot of people have done things that perhaps they’ve never done before. They might have used drills or built something for the first time, and they’re really excited by that. It is an opportunity to do something really fun and rewarding. Volunteers walk away feeling like their time has been put to good use, and they’ve been useful.
I’ve seen first-hand how important it is to be outside in nature.
London, relatively speaking, is a very green city, but so many people live in a highly urban environment where they have a balcony. It’s such an important thing for everybody to volunteer and have a day out in nature. The volunteers are normally creating or improving a space that would allow other people to go out into nature as well. There’s so much value in people being able to access nature.
We’ll often create time lapse films from start to finish to see the transformation from nothing to something.
What I find so rewarding is our ability to make a good amount of impact in a relatively short period of time. We built the mobile garden last year, a project that was impacted by Covid restrictions, but it’s now up and running again with weekly workshops, thanks to really willing groups of corporate volunteers. It’s right bang in East London, Hackney in an area where there’s very little food growing so by stewarding these little spaces of land, we can make a lasting impact.
As an environmentally focused charity, we have a responsibility to help systems change.
We encourage people to think about what they could do outside of what we offer. In a lot of instances, people reply positively, saying, ‘I thought it wouldn’t be for me, but I really liked it’ and talk excitedly about future opportunities they want to get involved in. That’s really encouraging because we want people to take an active interest and be more engaged in their community. It’s an opportunity to really bring more people into volunteer services in general.
We’re making partnerships with companies that have the same goals.
It’s something they care about. Companies recognise our work is important and want to continue funding it. We’re quite lucky we’ve got earnest partners, who really value the work we’re doing, and they show up wanting to work with a professionality to them, which means you can really rely on them for a pretty solid six-hour workday.
Gaining longer-term multiyear partnerships will allow us to build more relationships with community groups.
It is important that corporate businesses continue to support our work as it has huge value for community groups, who do not have the ability to raise money or have access to funds. Through online interaction – such as via LinkedIn – after a volunteering day, partners can help raise our profile, and showcase the nature of what we’re doing. With more people, we can achieve a lot more.
Notes to Editors
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Groundwork is a federation of charities with a collective mission to take practical action to create a fair and green future in which people, places, and nature thrive. We support communities and businesses to build capacity and resilience in order to tackle hardship, achieve a just transition to net-zero and help nature recover in a way that reduces inequality and leads to healthier, happier lives for all: www.groundwork.org.uk