Izzi Norman, Groundwork’s Fundraising Assistant, reflects on a volunteering day she attended as part of PWC’s ‘One Day, One Firm’ event with Groundwork.

With hundreds of employee volunteering days happening every year at Groundwork projects across the UK, it was exciting to have the opportunity to participate in one alongside some PWC employees! Last week, the Partnerships and Fundraising team took a break from our days in the office to pick up our tools and get stuck in.

We were making improvements to a growing garden on the site of a local Birmingham primary school. Their teachers, in particular, Mrs Calloway, have put in huge amounts of their own time and effort to create a beautiful garden, bringing green space into the learning environment and teaching the children to grow their own vegetables.

The sun was shining down on us as we gathered in their garden at the start of the day to go through our safety briefings and find out what our tasks would be. Sami and Abi from Groundwork West Midlands did a great job leading the day. They showed us how to use each of the tools and really got us stuck in.

There were lots of tasks to be getting on with so we split into groups and got to work. We were weeding, clearing the path and digging a pond to encourage biodiversity. I was part of the weeding team and the many hands made light work of the garden…we even took down a couple of (small) invading trees to make way for a new compost area!

Speaking of the new compost area, I was able to try my hand at carpentry in the afternoon as a team of us worked with Sami to build the outside structure that will hold the compost bin. We started with a pile of old wooden pallets and after a lot of sawing and drilling we had built a compost container. My day ended with me inside the structure, stapling the lining to the wooden slats to make sure it stayed in place. A tight squeeze, but definitely worth it.

Across the garden from us, the rest of the group also made amazing progress; one of the fences began the day covered in old paint and rust, but with (a lot of!) elbow grease, the team managed to clear most of the debris away, revealing the metal underneath ready to be given a fresh coat of paint and a new lease on life. The group working on the pond also made incredible progress; by the end of the day they had managed to dig out the entire pond, fully equipped with both a deep and a shallow end to support an array of pond life.

Another team is booked to volunteer at the site later in the year and they will be able to continue with each of these projects and hopefully get the garden even closer to being the growing haven that the children deserve and that Mrs Calloway has worked so hard to create for them.

It was a rewarding and joyful day that brought our team closer together, whilst giving back to a community that will really benefit from the work we carried out. We work hard at our desks every day to help facilitate the work that goes on at Groundwork projects, however it was great to be able to give our time on-site and see first-hand the difference that is being made by Groundwork projects.

Don’t just take my word for it, here’s what the rest of the team had to say:

Even though I work for Groundwork nationally and know the amazing work our colleagues on the ground do every day, it still fills me with awe to see them in action and to be involved in such a worthwhile project with a lovely school in a place that needs all the help it can get. Absolutely loved it and felt the toils of labour digging out the pond!

Joe McIndoe, Groundwork’s Partnerships Manager

It was a fantastic day, the Groundwork facilitators were knowledgeable and patient, and I cant wait to go out again and help the community. The school were really grateful for all that we achieved in the day, and it felt great knowing that we had contributed towards a safer space for the children to access.

Marie Crump, Groundwork’s Corporate Partnerships Coordinator

Thought the day was a great chance to get out in the fresh air and really make a difference – albeit my part was only a small one. It was a good team building exercise and also good to meet and network with the PWC volunteers. A brilliantly put together and led day by Sammi and Abi, well done!

Ray Nash, Groundwork’s Fundraising Officer