Unilever Volunteering Day sees hundreds employees support the local community
Last week more than 400 employees based at the Leatherhead, Surrey, head office of Unilever, gave their desks a day off in favour of supporting community groups and schools across Surrey in the company’s first “U-Volunteer” day – a day dedicated to volunteering in the community.
Unilever’s employees were involved in supporting 11 community partners across Leatherhead and the surrounding area who are helping to address some of today’s most pressing social issues affecting communities in the UK: skills for work for young people; self-esteem; food poverty, as well as enhancing the local environment and working with two local charities to help enhance the lives of those they support.
The projects included:
- Dove Self Esteem Workshops– volunteers facilitated self esteem workshops in Therfield School and St John’s School in Leatherhead , helping to build self esteem among young people
- Feeding Britain’s Future ‘Skills for Work’ workshops– volunteers facilitated employability skills workshops in the Leatherhead office for 35 young people, identified by Job Centre Plus, to help them get into work Unilever also partnered with responsible business charity Business in the Community to help facilitate some of the projects undertaken on the day. These included:
- The Pitstop– volunteers helped to cook and serve meals for the 25+ homeless, unemployed and socially isolated people in Leatherhead who visit The Pitstop to receive a hot midday meal
- The Leatherhead Youth Project– volunteers became gardeners for the day, helping to bring the charity’s allotment,Dig'It,to a usable state, weeding the plot and making planters out of recycled wood and compost bins
- Noah’s Ark Pre-School– volunteers helped to improve the Redhill-based pre-school’s outdoor area, dividing the space into different learning areas including a sandpit, jungle gym and garden
- Orpheus Centre– volunteers worked in the outdoor area, which is used by young disabled students with a passion for performing arts, by creating flowerbeds in the Godstone-based centre
- Walton Firs Activity Centre– volunteers helped to put up a new fence around the site as well as gardening and handiwork for the Cobham-based charity which offers an activity centre with leisure and educational activities to youth groups including schools, youth centres, Scouts, Guides and special needs groups
The aim of U-Volunteer day is to give Unilever employees the opportunity to bring to life at a personal level the company’s Sustainable Living Plan, a plan which sets out how the Unilever aims to double in size while reducing its environmental impact and increasing its positive social impact. The Plan details the global aim to help a billion people to improve their health and wellbeing by the year 2020 and enhance livelihoods, including those in the local community.
Tim Munden, VP HR at Unilever UK & Ireland, said, “We believe that businesses have a really important part to play in tackling some of the difficult social challenges faced by communities all around the country today. At Unilever, we are working to enhance the livelihoods of people on a global, national and local level andU-Volunteer Day has given our Leatherhead employees the opportunity to make a very personal contribution but on a large scale.”
U-Volunteer Day is just one aspect of the company’s volunteering efforts; in January, Unilever launched a volunteering policy that enables employees to spend a week volunteering in a project of their choice, using only two days of annual leave, while being given an additional three by the company.
Speaking on Unilever’s support of local communities Jenny Beacon, Community Impact Manager at Business in the Community commented ”It’s a fantastic achievement by each and every individual involved within Unilever in making this day possible. The time and support provided will leave a lasting impact for the community and we hope this is the first of many a successful U Volunteer days.”
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