The Southern Co-operative joins thousands across the UK celebrating the power of volunteering

14,656 business volunteers; 86 companies; giving over 102,592 hours volunteering, worth over £1,834,344.96, helping hundreds of thousands of people across UK communities.

• UK’s only national day of employee volunteering happening today
• Volunteers from The Southern Co-operative are supporting Portchester Community School pupils
• UK employees swap the office, factory and store to volunteer in their communities for Give & Gain Day 2015

Greg Wilkins Group Financial Controller May 2015

Photo: Greg Wilkins, Group Financial Controller

Give & Gain Day, organised by the Prince of Wales’s charity Business in the Community, is a global celebration of the power and potential of employee volunteering. Today (15 May 2015) 14,656 employees from businesses across the UK are getting out into their communities volunteering their time to help community groups, schools and local charities.

Today, eight of the ten colleagues from The Southern Co-operative who have volunteered to be mentors for pupils at Portchester Community School, will each hold a one to one session at the school. The Southern Co-operative has partnered with the school for a three year period as part of Business in the Community’s (BITC) Business Class programme. Chief Executive of The Southern Co-operative, Mark Smith, is also volunteering his time to Chair BITC’s Business Class programme in the Solent area in further support of this partnership. The mentors are drawn from all aspects of The Southern Co-operative’s business, including finance, End of Life Services, property acquisitions, local food sourcing and merchandising.

Volunteer mentor Sonia Harrington, who is Merchandising Manager at The Southern Co-operative, explained: “I have been fortunate enough to have had mentors at The Southern Co-operative and I’ve found this invaluable, both professionally and personally, so I wanted to do the same for someone else. I hope that I’m able to advise, support and share my work and life experiences to give motivation and inspiration.” Group Financial Controller, Greg Wilkins, added; “Giving some of my time and sharing my work and life experiences to inspire others, so that they too can stretch and push themselves to achieve their own goal, is priceless.”

Sonia Harrington Merchandising Manager

Photo: Sonia Harrington, Merchandising Manager

Businesses across the UK contain legions of skilled, experienced and energetic employees. 86 companies are helping 124 community organizations in the UK. In total, the value of time donated by volunteers across the UK on Give & Gain Day will be £1,834,344.96 – an invaluable investment for communities. Business volunteers are helping in schools, day centres and youth groups, doing everything from delivering employability workshops and CV training for the long term unemployed to supporting school sports days.

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community said “Give & Gain Day is an opportunity for businesses, community organisations and schools to celebrate what can be achieved through the power of volunteers. Employee volunteering is a win-win, the experience builds skills and motivates employees, whilst helping meet community needs.”

Gemma Lacey, The Southern Co-operative’s Director of Sustainability and Communications, said: “Volunteering brings benefits both to our communities and our business, by providing much needed support and resources as well as building our colleagues’ confidence and skills through individual and team involvement in community projects. Last year our colleagues volunteered 4,700 hours of their work time to support local community organisations in the areas we trade across southern England. This year’s Give and Gain Day provides a great opportunity to highlight the opportunities that volunteering brings and to encourage more of our colleagues to get involved in their communities. The Day will particularly mark the launch of a new partnership between The Southern Co-operative and Portchester Community School, which will see 10 colleagues initially from our business helping to raise the aspirations of Year 10 pupils through mentoring. This forms the first step in a long term partnership with the school, as part of Business in the Community’s Business Class programme in the Solent region.”

Give & Gain Day participants in the UK are in good company, joining a global movement of thousands of volunteers across 20 countries as diverse as Spain, Iran, and Mexico.