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Giving and gaining in equal measure

26 May 2016

Teams of staff from across the University made a real difference around Manchester on this year's Give & Gain Day (20 May)

On Friday, 20 May, more than a dozen teams from across the University took part in Business in the Community’s Give & Gain Day, the global day of employee volunteering. Since it began in 2008, over 135,000 people worldwide have taken part in Give & Gain Day, which aims to make volunteering fun, accessible and inspirational.

What we gave

This year our teams made a difference in the following ways:

Increasing biodiversity

At Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury, the MHS Administration team worked alongside colleagues from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences to lay a wood chip path which will open up access to different areas of the gardens.

Further afield at Heaton Park, teams from the School of Materials PSS and the AMBS Doctoral Programmes Office cleared invasive Himalayan balsam to allow a wider variety of plants to grow. Alliance MBS staff also turned their hands to painting fences in the afternoon. A second team from Alliance MBS cleared Himalayan balsam at Chorlton Water Park, created habitats and undertook other environmental tasks.

The volunteers were able to tackle jobs which would be too large for the park teams to tackle without help and have improved these environments for users.

Improving the environment

A team from the Directorate of Estates and Facilities transformed the children's play area at Ladybarn Community Centre by repainting the fence and a bench in bright colours and moving 5 tonnes of top soil.

Over at Manchester Youth Academy, another army of volunteers from the Directorate, including Balfour Beatty’s first apprentice through the Construction Works Academy, Will Herbert, helped to tidy up the car park and entrance to the sports fields. 

At Ronald McDonald House in Withington, a third Estates and Facilities team got the premises ready for the Annual Fundraising Event on the following day. The team moved furniture, cleared toys, set up for filming, repaired games consoles, cleaned windows, walls and work surfaces, and did some gardening and lots of vacuuming.

A third team from Alliance MBS transformed a school wall at The Friars Primary School, Salford, with murals on a sporting theme, while a fourth team of Alliance MBS colleagues undertook a range of gardening tasks at the Seashell Trust to help make the area safe for pupils with sensory impairments.

Alliance MBS's fifth team spent the day at Lancasterian School in West Didsbury, a specialist school for 13-16 year olds with physical difficulties, severe medical conditions and commmunication needs, where they set to work in the playground, painting a shed, varnishing the den and clearing out the fountain. They also attended assembly and joined in a cheerleading class at lunchtime.

Helping the disadvantaged

The Division of Communications and Marketing returned to the homeless charity, Lifeshare, for a second year. This time around, they were joined by colleagues from the Directorate of Human Resources and the Office of Social Responsibility and tackled a variety of challenges, which included painting the chapel and circulation areas, clearing storage areas and loading unwanted items into a skip, rotating food stocks, making up toiletry packs, and sorting clothing donations.

Meanwhile, at an Age UK centre in Gorton, the Library Choir held a ‘Sing and Gain’ day to entertain dementia sufferers. As well as singing a medley of wartime songs and songs from the 1940s/50s, the choir ran a music quiz, hosted ‘Play your cards right’, provided homemade cakes and helped serve refreshments and lunch.

What we gained

Everyone who took part in Give & Gain Day clearly found it a rewarding experience and enjoyed teaming up with colleagues to support worthwhile causes in the community. Everyone worked hard, with enthusiasm and energy, and made the most of opportunities for team bonding and development:

  • “The day [at Heaton Park] was enjoyable and rewarding, and it was great to work together with colleagues to support a worthwhile cause in the community. We did make a massive effort to reduce the Himalayan balsam, but agreed that removing this annual weed must be like painting the Forth Bridge!” (Christine Taylor, School of Materials)
  • "The staff at Lancasterian School were very welcoming, enthusiastic and helpful - their work is very inspiring and I would highly recommend working with the school again in the future." (Rachel Lea, Alliance MBS)
  • “I thought it would be fun to combine singing and working within the local community. We had an absolute blast meeting the clients at the Age UK centre, who had an average age of 85. There were some real characters and they loved joining in with the songs they knew and entertaining us with a few poems and songs of their own. We have even promised to go back at Christmas to hold a carol concert!” (Caroline Riches, Head of Finance and Planning, Library)

There was also some very appreciative feedback from the organisations we helped and we even got a mention in Manchester Weekly News.

So a huge thanks to everyone who took part in Give & Gain Day this year and made a real difference for local communities.

Thanks to our supporters

We’d also like to say a big thank you to Novus Solutions, the University’s maintenance contractors, and our Framework Partners (Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine), for their generous support in supplying equipment, materials and manpower for several of the projects.