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Holbrook Primary School & ActivGardens host Employer Supported Volunteering initiative with staff at SmartestEnergy

SmartestEnergy’s CSR policy leads to Employee Volunteering Initiative

A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy outlining responsibility for the social, environmental and economic impacts of the operations of Ipswich energy firm, SmartestEnergy, has led to Employee Volunteering initiatives at both Holbrook Primary School and ActivGardens for staff.

Employees are encouraged to maintain an interest in supporting local charitable organisations including advertising their own events and raising awareness and funds for their nominated charities. Stemming from this effort to support and give back to the communities in and around their offices, a ‘Giving Something Back’ initiative was launched, to provide a structured way for departmental teams to organise fundraising and volunteering activities.

Volunteering and Fundraising During COVID-19 Lockdowns:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, employees at their Ipswich office wanted to support the local community by helping those struggling to access housing and essentials. Staff stepped up to volunteer and donate food parcels to the Suffolk Soup Kitchen. The team also donated over £800 for the repair of the Ipswich Outreach Bus that broke down during this period to help ensure that it was able to operate as needed to serve the community. 

CSR integrated within key business activities and policies

SmartestEnergy’s company values are increasingly integrated within objective setting. Individual teams, including the Operations and IT & Change based in Ipswich, have made it a priority to integrate ‘Giving Something Back’ participation within staff objectives to foster a sense of team commitment to delivering on plans for the year.

Two days paid leave allows employees to participate in volunteering activities

Under this initiative, employees are granted two days paid leave per year to take part in volunteering activities and charity work. In Ipswich, SmartestEnergy’s Operations and IT & Change Departments meet on a weekly basis to schedule volunteering activities and plan engaging fundraising efforts.

One such link was set up with Holbrook Primary School with staff involved in clearing rubbish and algae from around the pond, weeding the meadow area and preparing the ground for their forest school.

Imi and Joe were two of the staff using their volunteering days to help out with the forest clean up at Holbrook Primary School. They also cleared rubbish and algae from around the pond and meadow area on-site. Chris Perry, Head of Holbrook Primary School commented, “Involving volunteers really works for us as a school for many reasons. It is a real help to be able to draw on skills that we don’t necessarily have amongst our staff. It is a positive example for pupils who will hopefully become future adult volunteers. School budgets are more stretched than ever so this allows us to make improvements and run projects that we wouldn’t be able to without volunteers. It also seems to be a positive experience for the volunteers as they are improving school life and learning opportunities for pupils while enjoying exercise and positive social interaction…  and we provide biscuits, of course”. 

Staff also spent time helping to support and maintain the Community Gardens on Maidenhall Allotments.

“We all had a really good day and would love to go back.”

Kelly Edwards, Customer Services Executive commenting on her experience volunteering to maintain the Maidenhall Allotment Community Gardens with CRESS Project ActivLives Gardening

“We had a fantastic day and Ian from CRESS Project ActivLives Gardening seemed to be very pleased with our work. We have promised we will be back to finish what we started, or help with other projects”

– Alicja Burza, Senior Customer Service Executive