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Leicestershire Cares

In the thick of it…our volunteers at Fosse Meadows

When Leicestershire Cares approached Hinckley & Rugby Building Society to become a member in January 2012 it turned out to be a perfect fit.

The Society has always had the interests of its communities at its heart and encourages and enables staff to volunteer on up to three days of paid leave per year. Leicestershire Cares introduces its member companies to local people and organisations that are in need of help. It was indeed a perfect fit.

One of the first Cares projects Society staff got involved with was Number Partners. Each week volunteers go into a local primary school to play maths-based board games with pupils. The children need a little extra support to gain confidence with maths or with participation, or both.

The games are designed to make maths fun, and it works! The Society has a team of eight staff who visit Manorfield Primary School in Stoney Stanton to work one to one or in small groups of pupils.

Dawn Thomas, class teacher at Manorfield Primary School said:

“Children have enjoyed the lunchtime sessions and all have benefitted. We have seen an increase in confidence with all the children and they are more able to tackle difficult problems either in a group or independently.

“All children have really enjoyed working with the volunteers and have built fantastic working relationships with them all.”

Another of Leicestershire Cares’ Education Projects is Go for Reading. The Society provides two members of staff who work one to one on reading skills with pupils at local secondary school, Hinckley Academy. One of these volunteers, Savings Manager Kerry McDonagh, received a Leicestershire Cares’ Golden Heart award in 2017 for her on-going participation in the scheme.

Savings Manager Kerry McDonagh receiving her Golden Heart Award by Leicestershire Cares in 2017.

The Society also regularly sends volunteers to help in local secondary schools, providing mock interviews for teenagers in readiness for further education or the world of work. These Interview Technique sessions are always enthusiastically delivered by the staff who volunteer their time.

Once a year, a team of up to 20 staff are given time off from their usual duties to take part in a Cares Team Challenge, offering much-needed assistance to charities and community groups with major projects that they would otherwise struggle to fund or undertake.

Team Challenges are an opportunity for Society staff with no previous management experience to lead a team.

Last year saw a group of 13 volunteers clearing pathways through woodland at Fosse Meadows near Sharnford, in a bid for the nature reserve to be more accessible and safe for visitors.

James Poynton, green space engagement officer at Blaby District Council, said:

“We were delighted to welcome the enthusiastic team, who managed to complete a lot more work than I thought possible.

“Their work to prune trees and clear brambles will make the walkways and woodland more accessible and safe. We’d be delighted to welcome the team back anytime.”

The first Challenge saw Society staff redecorate at Mencap in Hinckley, giving the tired interior of its community hall a complete refresh. Staff completed a similar job for the disabled residents at a Leonard Cheshire Disability home in Coalville the following year.

To help mark the Society’s 150th Anniversary in 2015 the challenge chosen was a bigger one, with over 20 staff spending three full days transforming the garden at Barwell Community House.

The centre works with local residents and young people in an area previously blighted by anti-social

Baljeet and Sophie cleared out the children’s sandpit at Barwell Community House

behaviour, encouraging them to become involved in community projects and activities. The community house is used by a wide variety of users, from mother and toddler groups to local pensioners.

Carla Loughrey, who co-ordinates the Society’s Leicestershire Cares activities, said:

“All team challenges are met with such enthusiasm, however it really pushes the volunteers out of their comfort zone and tests their abilities. The team spirit on these days is fantastic and give staff from all over the Society an opportunity to work together and make a difference for others – what could be better?”

The Society also participates actively in the other annual projects run by Leicestershire Cares, such as Festive Challenges and Collect for Christmas Campaigns.

The Collect for Christmas Campaign facilitates the donation of countless toys and home starter packs to those who otherwise would not be able to enjoy the type of festive period most people take for granted.

The most recent campaign in December 2017 saw staff and customers donate almost 200 toys for Leicester charity Toys on the Table, which sorts them into the children’s age groups, wraps them and passes them on to children across Leicestershire and Rutland.

Staff – Rakesh, Angela and Rita with a few toys from our collection.

Leicestershire Cares community development coordinator Sarah Green said:

“Once again Hinckley & Rugby has offered wonderful support to our Collect for Christmas campaign this year. The generosity of its caring staff to help others is simply amazing and their donations will make a tremendous difference to Toys on the Table and the children it supports.”

The Society’s increasing involvement with the many projects outlined here was rewarded in May 2015 when it was named Leicestershire Cares’ Company of the Year.

Chief Executive Chris White said:

“The Society was delighted to receive the award, but it was really an honour and reward for every single member of staff who gave their time or made a donation towards the valuable work Leicestershire Cares does.

“It’s something we are rightly proud to be involved with and which reflects the guiding principle of giving back to the community that the Society has followed for the last 150 years.”