Wessex Community Action is the council for voluntary services in Wiltshire and provides practical support for community organisations on funding, governance, planning, policy development, recruiting and leadership. This monthly volunteering column looks at all aspects of volunteering and how people can give up their time for the benefit of their communities.

COMBINING a company’s physical resources with the desire to help its community is the perfect recipe for an increasingly popular type of volunteering.

Employer-Supported Volunteering (ESV) provides opportunities for employees to volunteer during work hours, either as regular arrangements or partnerships with charities for specific projects. ESV can be more than just an act of charity, it can be part of an organisation's corporate responsibility and build bridges between companies, their employees, and the broader community.

One-off or short-term ESV opportunities, also known as 'micro-volunteering,' involve short, specific tasks that are easy to start and complete and are ideal for those with busy workloads. Examples include giving career talks, running workshops, or participating in team challenge days like river and park cleaning.

A team from B&Q in Devizes spent a day at homeless charity Doorway’s allotment in Chippenham. CEO Jo Kitching says it was a positive experience for B&Q’s staff and the charity. “We’d just been given the allotment and it was in a total state so they had loads of work to do,” she said. “But B&Q’s staff spent all day there and completely transformed it,” she said. “They were incredibly friendly and it worked really well.”

But she said companies don’t need to embark on huge labour intensive projects to make a difference or get fulfilment. “Where it really works, is when a company offers their own natural skills to you, like book-keeping or PR, that is incredibly valuable,” she said.

Wessex Community Action can help organisations and volunteers understand the type of volunteering they are looking for and broker an appropriate match with a charity. Volunteer and Community Development Worker Sarah Pickering said: “For it to work most effectively, it’s important the expectations between the charities and organisations are well matched so that it’s a rewarding and enriching experience for both parties. We can help facilitate the right match for the employer and the voluntary organisation.”

An ideal place to look for volunteering opportunities is Wiltshire Together, a digital community platform hosted by Wessex Community Action. On it, organisations and charities manage all their own content and activities so it is always up to date.

It is free to use and allows users to browse and pledge interest for the opportunities listed. Users can also set up a member profile that allows them to log their volunteer hours, which can help with CVs and employability prospects.

The site now has a new Volunteering in Wiltshire page and can be found at wiltshiretogether.org.uk. To find out more about Employer Supported Development, contact Volunteer and Community Development Worker Sarah Pickering at volunteerdev@wessexcommunityaction.org.uk