University collaboration to give boost to local volunteering

A University research project is investigating the need for a new employee volunteering network in Bath to make it easier for small businesses to support the community.

A pilot study of local businesses has found that almost ninety per cent want to help local groups with volunteer requests, but they name resources and red tape as two of the problems that stand in their way.

The University is working with Bath & North East Somerset Council and Bath Volunteer Centre to consider the potential for widespread volunteering in and around Bath and the support that a network could provide to overcome practical problems.

A network could coordinate volunteering opportunities such as one-off short projects using business skills or team challenges to complete practical tasks in the community and help with volunteering paperwork and policy, as well as offering networking events with other employers and voluntary organisations.

The University hosted an evening at Bath’s Holburne Museum on Thursday 12 January to present findings so far to representatives of local businesses, community groups and council leaders.

The research project is led by Paul Caulfield, a lecturer from the University’s School of Management, with support from a group of final year Business Administration students.

Paul said: “Generally, there has been a limited adoption of organised employee volunteering in the local businesses interviewed. However, most firms act to support communities through individual efforts and were optimistic about the benefits that volunteering brings to the firm, its employees and the community in general.

“With the right support and encouragement, many more businesses may find the path to employee volunteering easier to navigate.

“The network would also be able to support employers, volunteers and other community groups to develop a framework of competencies which will assess the impact of employer supported volunteering within the business.”

Consultation will continue over the next month and for more information local businesses and community groups can contact Paul Caulfield

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