Volunteers' Week 2020: Fundraising Manager, Wendy Bray on Seashell's Corporate Volunteers

We have enjoyed the support of corporate volunteers for over ten years at Seashell Trust and having the teams in, especially through the summer months when keeping the gardens safe and sensory is a never ending task, is not just a ‘nice to have’. We couldn’t function without them. It is also events season and our corporate volunteers don’t just add person-power to our events – they bring an objective eye and a truckload of fabulous ideas that truly add value to our activities.

I know many charities find corporate volunteers a challenge but for us they are a necessary part of achieving our mission to enable our children and young people to live their lives to their full potential. The obvious benefit is the numbers, which as a charity is key. We calculate the monetary value of every single group that comes in and on an annual average our corporate volunteers equate to a salary cost saving of just under £50,000. Last year that was 836 individuals, doing a total of 5,016 hours.

But it isn’t just about money. The true impact of the corporate volunteers is often after they have left for the day. They don’t get to see the joy for a family who get to spend time outside in a beautiful space because going to the park together is just not an option for them. Or the progress a young person makes against their learning plan because they have a stimulating area to learn in. Or even the pride of a child that dares to try something for the first time because they were encouraged by a volunteer at a sports event. Those things are priceless because they are life-changing.

One of the things we find comes up most in the feedback is how much people have learnt about disability and how much confidence they have gained in communicating with our children and young people. The benefits of this in terms of disability awareness are far reaching for communities everywhere. And if we have managed to break down some of the barriers between able and disabled people that is a real success. For me, breaking down those barriers both literal in terms of the front gate – essential for safeguarding vas we know – and figuratively between us and the community around us is one of the greatest benefits.

Finally, I don’t think we should forget that not all corporate volunteering happens on site. Our supported employment corporate partners give up countless hours to support our young people every week to achieve so much in the world of work. The skills they teach and the confidence they give will benefit them for years to come.

So, thank you to all our corporate volunteers this National Volunteering Week. You are all an integral part of our team and make life so much better for all our children, young people and their families.