Volunteer Time Off at Daresbury: Supporting Francis House Children's Hospice
I feel so proud to be involved in something that really makes a difference. To see the support for charity grow with colleagues, friends, and family—each contributing in different ways—is simply amazing.
Yet it would have been so easy for this all to have never happened and for my "I'm too busy" mindset to have never allowed any time to focus on and nurture such a worthy cause.
How It Started
It didn’t start with my first day volunteering at the Charity Shop
It didn’t start with my call to Julie Williams, fundraising officer for Francis House Children's Hospice, either.
It started as part of Ivanti’s Sales Kick Off Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, in January, when Ivanti launched two initiatives: 5 For The Fight (to support the eradication of cancer) and a revised VTO (Volunteer Time Off) policy. The previous VTO policy had only supported STEM activities, while the revised VTO policy now allows employees to support any cause of their choice and give something back to their communities.
The SKO conference was energising, and I signed up for the 5 For The Fight regular donation and felt good about myself. But really, I still felt as though I hadn’t done much—and that I could do more—but I just hadn’t thought further about it or woken myself up to take action.
I returned back from the conference and had the familiar bulging inbox to look forward to as anyone does when trying to catch up on work missed whilst away. Now, add onto that trying to balance working for a global company (with headquarters in the USA and many timezones), a busy family life, and supporting four children all at school—hey, I was doing ok. I didn’t have time for anything else, right?
Some time later as we were having a Daresbury site catch-up meeting, the topic of charity came up, and they were looking for Charity Champions. Well, of course this would suit people less busy than me, and they would certainly be more effective. Yet many eyes turned to me as one to help lead this, and they were right. I was now awake to the idea. I had the aptitude and I knew I could find the time to give something more back.
I left work that day knowing that I had to make it easier for people to help and get involved. I couldn’t be the only one telling myself I was too busy. So I spoke to my wife and she helped me with a shortlist of charities, and Francis House Children's Hospice in Manchester was the one that stood out to me. Watching the promotional video at home, I was a wreck—eyes tearful and wondering how I could pitch this at work without crying in front of my team and colleagues.
So the next day I called Julie Williams from Francis House with the aim of setting something up that would make it easier for people to get involved.
Making It Easy
In an effort to make it easy for others to help, I started by setting up regular volunteering in the Charity Shop that supports Francis House. My thought was, if I remove the need to think about how to help and instead provide all the information, people will just need to find a date and time that suits them. So I created a rota for each Thursday of 2019 and put myself down as day one's volunteer so I could provide feedback to others.
I then set up a donation spot onsite and started to promote it. Staff could now get involved by donating items such as old/unused clothes, bags, shoes, and other suitable items that could make a difference. Their spring cleaning now resulted in charitable donations!
I invited Julie onsite to raise yet more awareness for the charity. I employed my plan to not cry by carefully avoiding eye contact during the promotional video, and also forewarned staff that I found it a tough video to watch, but one that helped show how our support would be used. It was emotional, but I didn’t lose it, and I felt good to be involved.
I wanted to be the first to volunteer so I could get answers to questions that others may have, without which they may not feel comfortable volunteering. So I spent a day volunteering at the Francis House Charity Shop, and it felt great to get involved in a totally different environment and make a difference. The other regular volunteers on the day, Frances, Margaret, and Bex, made me feel super welcome and it was extremely rewarding to see our donations being sorted, displayed, and creating value for this great cause!
I came back not only feeling good about myself, but also armed with photos and information to pass on. I created a handover sheet which we use to prepare the next volunteer for the Charity Shop to answer the questions and prepare them.
It's great to see how this volunteer work has expanded. One of my colleagues looked at the Francis House website events page and spotted the Cheshire Three Peaks event. We now have some people from work going and I am personally taking my wife and four kids. My wife and another colleague asked about sponsorship, so I created sponsorship forms.
In other event news, Julie from Francis House asked for volunteers to support the Enchanted Ladies Lunch, and after asking a couple of people to volunteer, one of them took over and got the full team support that was needed.
It’s great to see the momentum being created—the support and encouragement we provide each other, and how we find and sacrifice that little bit of time. Everything we do in support of Francis House will make such a significant difference to the children who really don’t have the time to spare that we may all take for granted.