v recently hosted a round table bringing together leading figures from the Institute of Directors, Global Radio, Sky and Enterprise Car Rental. The panel debated issues around volunteering in the workplace and it was clear that all of the attendees have a real passion for volunteering and the benefits that it can bring to a business.
The group came to the swift conclusion that volunteering has the ability to develop real and tangible skills for employees; in some instances actually replacing more traditional forms of training. While businesses differ in their approach to volunteering, most treat is strategically. Looking at what it has to achieve to deliver back to the business, setting clear and measureable targets then tracking and reporting those outputs on a regular basis were seen as valuable. With target setting the key was having both quantitative and qualitative measures that show both the development of skills as well as the engagement levels of employees.
In short, many organisations are already heavily engaged in volunteering and reaping the benefits, with a huge number of success stories out there.
But there are also barriers, such as time to source volunteering opportunities and the need for simple, easy to use solutions from charities.
At v, we want to showcase these success stories and would love to hear about employers’ programmes. If you are only just starting down this path and thinking of setting up a programme, take look at our recent research on the attitudes towards workplace schemes. And give us a call or email to talk about it, as we know that making volunteering work is rewarding both for your organisation and for your staff.
And, if you want help with employee volunteering, our Volunteering Works programme and team is here to help.
How often do you recycle or switch off a lightbulb when you leave a room? If you’re anything like me then perhaps not enough. The fact is though little things like this do make a massive difference. Did you know that the average household in the UK creates around 5 and a half tonnes of CO2 per year? That’s a lot of CO2, infact enough to fill a hot air baloon. Aside from helping care for your environment, saving energy can also save you money - in fact the average UK household spends £1,200 per year on fuel and power…
‘Why am I rambling on about this all of a sudden?’ you’re maybe thinking…Well, next week marks Climate Week, a national occasion with an aim to raise awareness of and help combat climate change in the UK. Thousands of businesses, charities, schools, councils and others will run events during Climate Week on 21-27 March 2011, sharing ideas and encouraging thousands more to take action. To mark Climate Week we’ve also put together a heap of great green volunteering opportunities so that you too can get involved with the action and help make England a greener place!
Playing your part in Climate Week need not take much time – every little bit helps and so we’ve decided to leave you with a few quick and easy energy saving tips to get you started:
1. Light bulbs did you know that flourescent bulbs only use 1/4 of the energy that regular bulbs use? So, whilst flourscent bulbs may be more expensive to buy they last much longer and in the long run save both energy and money!
2. Containers as simple as it may sound just by re-using containers, you can save loads on energy and money. There’s no point buying new containers or throwing old ones away and creating unnecessary waste when you can simply re-use packaging from other products – wash out old glass jars and save boxes, you’ll be surprised how many things you may be able to use them for.
3. Donate when you’re done with old clothes or goods why not donate them to charity or even a friend? No need to create more waste by throwing them away - they may be just the thing someone else wants!
4. Water when washing up or brushing your teeth remember to turn the water off; again, it sounds so simple but you’d be surprised how much water is wasted as people leave taps on whilst they don’t need to. Another great way of saving on water use is to take shows not baths – baths tend to use much more water.
5.Electrical equipment people often don’t think twice about leaving electrical goods like TVs and DVD players on standby overnight whilst they sleep or during the day whilst they’re out. You can save a massive amount of electricity over time however by simply taking a second to switch them off – again, nice and simple!
Have a little more time to give? Why not check out our Climate Week opportunities and make a difference. You can find out more about Climate Week on their website and show your support by asking an organisation or group you know to run an event.
Have you got any tips you’d like to share? Share them with us below and let’s get England green!
Just when you’ve had as much as you can take of cold weather and dark evenings we have some good news for you – yep, summer’s coming back! At vinspired this can only mean one thing – festivals; want to know why? Well, we have some great ways to get into festivals for free!
Whether you’re strapped for cash or simply like the idea of volunteering somewhere fun we’ve got some fantastic opportunities that will give you free access, through the barriers, volunteering in the heart of the action.By giving just a bit of your time you can get to see some of your favourite artists live whilst soaking up the summer vibes.
Following the popularity of the festival opportunities last year, they’re back again on vinspired and we’ll be continuing to add more right up until summer. We must warn you though, they are incredibly popular so you’ll need to get in quick!
As part of the Government’s Big Society policy, they’ve introduced a Big Society Award to celebrate the work of groups, individuals or organisations that succesfully demonstrate the Big Society in action. The award focuses upon three specific areas:
- Promoting social action – people being, and being encouraged to be, be more involved in their communities through giving time, money and other resources.
- Empowering communities – local people taking control of how things are done in their area and being helped to do this by local government and others.
- Opening up public services – public sector organisations and individuals demonstrating innovative ways of delivering public services and charities, social enterprises and private companies showing new ways of delivering public services.
It’s really exciting to hear that 3 of 11 winners so far have been v funded projects!
Firstly The Old Vic Tunnels, described by Prime Minister, David Cameron as “an incredibly exciting project, bringing together young people from diverse backgrounds and offering them the chance to be part of such a creative and engaging venture at the heart of their community”. The Old Vic Tunnels is a fantastic performance space in a set of tunnels in the heart of London offering young people the opportunity to gain experience in production and contribute towards a popular, innovative arts venue. With over 300 volunteers having taken part so far, many recruited through vinspired.com, The Old Vic tunnel have regularly sold out shows and put on some fantastic performances!
Next up are Make A Difference, a project based in Milton Keynes with the aim of inspiring young people to better their lives and those around them by taking action volunteering in their communities. Make A Difference have lived up their name and engaged over 3000 young people to take action over the past 5 years.
Last but not least, FoodCycle, a fantastic project started in 2008 where young people are given the facilities to create nutritious meals for people affected by food poverty in the UK. Prime Minister, David Cameron commented,
“Food poverty and food waste is a significant issue in this country and FoodCycle has come up with an innovative and life-changing solution.”
What would an awards night be without a great dance act to hype up the show? Earlier this week we had the opportunity to visit Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden to see dance troup The Movement Factory, who’ll be performing live at the vinspired National Awards, joined by a very special guest, singer/dancer/model/actress and former Pussycat Dolls member, Kimberly Wyatt. Kimberly Wyatt was on hand to help choreograph the routine for the night and also took time to offer advice and answer questions. As someone with two left feet, watching the dance crew performing headstands, splits and jumps was inspiring – particularly so early on a Monday morning (how do they do it?)! If what I witnessed on Monday is anything to go by, I can’t wait to see them in action on the night!
Inspirational, young volunteers really are at the centre of the awards, from helping provide the entertainment (as you can see), to working backstage and even helping pick the winners – you can find out more about their involvement here.
Young people’s online charity, Youthnet are working with six European organisations to compare and contrast the ways in which young people across Europe use the internet for information, advice and guidance. This is where you come in! By taking part in their online survey you have the chance of winning a £50 Amazon voucher – not bad for a few minutes of your time, eh?
As many of you are aware we’re now rapidly approaching the upcoming vinspired National Awards! To help us on the night we’ve recruited lots of great volunteers – everything from party people to spread the word of v, to backstage volunteers, interviewers, bloggers and DJs. Response was fantastic and we’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone who’s sent in their applications and all the people involved in helping us get this far – standards were amazingly high and if we could have accepted all of you, we would.
So, all is nearly set for March 17th when the Indigo2 will come alive to celebrate the work of England’s most inspiring young volunteers from our shortlist of finalists as we wait in baited breath to hear who has won!
We love to keep in touch with past winners and see what they’re up to. On Friday morning we were greeted with some very exciting news that, one of last year’s winners, Rich Simmons was featured in this morning’s Metro and Daily Mail. Rich, a talented aerosol/stencil artist has just created his latest piece of work celebrating the engagement of Kate Middleton and Prince William, transforming them into punk rockers in an interesting twist; in an excerpt from the Daily Mail he comments,
‘Hopefully they will like it. I wanted to do something that would make William and Kate accessible’” he said.
‘They are the modern breed of royals and they’re not like the others, they are more down to earth.’
It’s great to see previous winners continue to gain such positive attention and we’re excited to see what this year’s winners have instore for us! In the meanwhile you can find out more about this year’s finalists here.
Never a dull moment here at v. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting not one but three worldclass athletes – World In-line Skating Champion, Jenna Downing, former European and Commonwealth swimming champion ( who represented Great Britain for 10 years), Adam Whitehead and two time Olympic gold medalist,Dame Kelly Holmes. ‘Why?’ you ask… Aside from the fact you’ll generally find me hanging out with celebs in my spare time (cough cough), they were indeed all here for a specific reason - to join us to create a video to promote the upcoming NCS Summer Of A Lifetime programme. We’re teaming up with the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust and various local agencies and organisations around the country to create an exciting new programme this summer with 1,000 free places for young people to get involved. Expect the opportunity to attend residentials crammed full of problem solving, team building, outdoor activities (supported by world class athletes!) and the opportunity to plan and deliver a project to improve your local community; oh yes, not forgetting a large celebration at the end where you’ll get the opportunity to celebrate your achievements with those close to you and press. Sound good? Well, we’ll keep you posted…In the meanwhile here’s a sneaky peak at a few pics from the filming day (for the record, yes, the Olympic Gold medal Lorna’s holding below is real!).