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I’ve been reflecting recently about the support Leading Edge have given to Warwickshire-based charity Helping Hands and how we’ve been able to connect some of our fantastic clients like Jaguar Land Rover, Whitbread and Wickes– with the charity for the good of both. (You may have seen the amazing news of the donation Wickes gave just last week?)
I can say “for the good of both” because I know that our clients’ good deeds have benefitted those employees who took part, whether they were giving their time as part of a volunteering scheme through their employer, or putting their skills and expertise to great use to benefit the charity as part of a team development activity.
My daughter once told me “it’s OK to do a selfish good deed”: I agree – it feels good when you do good, and that’s really OK. Leading Edge have supported Helping Hands for 18 months or so, and in that time our guys have provided pro bono customer service training and one-to-one coaching and have helped to create a manifesto that supports the charity with understanding and articulating the amazing work they do for homeless and vulnerable people.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a big topic for businesses – employees are more aligned with businesses that are socially responsible, and CSR can help with mental health and wellbeing. I often chat with our clients about CSR when they’re looking for ideas for a meaningful team activity or a way for their team to volunteer their skills and knowledge. I’m so pleased that I’ve been able to put our clients in touch with Helping Hands in this way.
Last month, the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Communications Team spent a day away from their roles to give Helping Hands a much-appreciated ‘hand up’ with marketing, PR and fundraising. Helping Hands benefitted hugely from this day with access to resources, expertise, ideas and enthusiasm that they could never afford in the real world. It was a phenomenal day for them.
And the JLR team benefitted, too. They enjoyed being free from the constraints of long-term marketing planning in a big organisation, and they enjoyed the challenge of thinking differently and creatively around a problem to create materials that will directly support the charity in what they do. It’s great to hear that some team members continue to support with social media, which aligns with JLR’s policy of encouraging employees to engage in volunteering opportunities.
Another one of our brilliant clients extending their established skill set and resources to benefit others is Wickes. After previously helping us out on a project to support a school in a challenging area, they were keen to do more and get more team members involved.
It seemed natural to put Wickes in touch with Helping Hands and they have done a wonderful job of redecorating the drop-in centre, offices and Soup Kitchen, which is a lifeline to many.
The Helping Hands Soup Kitchen is where Whitbread’s Operations Directors served up some great memories as part of their team journey. For the third event in a Leading Edge leadership programme, one of the directors challenged us to create something different as a team activity. (Not the typical ‘meal and drinks’ for these forward-thinking hospitality guys!)
I chatted with Lianne Kirkman, Helping Hands’ CEO, and she was delighted with the idea of a ‘Whitbread Soup Kitchen Takeover’. This activity took great team work to plan, prepare and serve a memorable meal to an unknown number of guests in an unfamiliar catering environment! It was a real activity to stretch thinking: many people were out of their comfort zones and some were naturally more at ease behind the scenes, with others happier to be out front.
There were so many valuable reflections for the directors. As with the JLR team activity, the relationship between Helping Hands and Whitbread has evolved. Its Bar + Block restaurant in Leamington now helps the charity to deliver employability skills and support people into work in the hospitality sector. Charity volunteers are being helped, too, to gain their food hygiene certificates.
I’m proud to talk about these three fantastic CSR initiatives where Leading Edge clients have wanted to, and been able to, do some real good for a hard-working charity. It all comes back to having that opportunity to do something good for someone else while learning (or rediscovering) a bit about yourself – and maybe gaining back a bit of perspective on your own situation that is so easily lost when you’re focusing hard on achieving in your role every day.
You can see more about the amazing work Helping Hands does on their website: https://www.helpinghandscharity.org.uk/