1% Club is a 100% Success
Belzona Polymerics will be celebrating its 65 year anniversary this February, of which 60 have been in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. In this time both the company and town have seen change, improvement and success – Belzona has grown into one of Harrogate’s most prominent businesses, employing approximately 120 members of staff, and Harrogate has served as a beautiful location for the company, for visiting customers and Distributors.
Corporate Responsibility at Belzona
Over the years, Belzona has held fundraisers and sponsored activities as a way of giving back to the local community. But at the beginning of 2016, it was decided that more could be done. Beyond donating prizes and contributing money, Belzona decided it would allow its employees to give more – their working time.
And so the 1% Club was created. This innovative scheme encourages Belzona employees to spend 1% of their working time volunteering (which equates to around 19.5 hours or 3 days a year for full-time employees). The idea was to allow employees to give back to their local community, whether that be by volunteering for a charity close to their hearts or with one of Belzona’s chosen charities- Harrogate Homeless Project and HELP (Harrogate Easier Living Project). Harrogate Homeless Project has been operating since 1991, providing shelter and support to homeless and vulnerably housed people. Harrogate Easier Living Project has a number of volunteering initiatives all designed to help support older and vulnerable people to live independently.
Now, looking back at the inaugural year of club we can reflect on whether it has been a success and what the staff who took part thought of it. A wide selection of charities were volunteered for, from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, where an employee was a First Aider for the Tour de Yorkshire, to the Jennyruth Workshops in Ripon, North Yorkshire, which provides workshops for adults with learning disabilities. Alongside this, the two chosen charities proved to be very popular with a number of staff helping throughout the year.
To really get an idea of how the 1% Club was received, the Belzona Blog interviewed two HELP volunteers, Marina Silva and Tom Belli, as well as Laura Smith, Head of Corporate Development and one of the co-founders of the scheme.
Q: What was the inspiration for the 1% Club?
Laura: I’d seen that some other companies were offering volunteering opportunities to employees and I thought this was a really fantastic idea. The idea of the 1% Club would be that it would enable employees to use 1% of their working time to support local community based activities. We then went out and researched some charities in the Harrogate area and got in contact with HELP and Harrogate Homeless and away we went with it.
Q: Why did you choose to join?
Tom: Personally, I enjoy doing charity work outside of work, so when the 1% Club was announced I thought it’d be a great opportunity.
Marina: I thought it was a great initiative to volunteer in the local community and I always found it difficult to find the time to volunteer so the fact that the company offered us to do this during work time was perfect.
Q: What kind of volunteering did you do?
Tom: I’ve done the 1% Club on three occasions this year. For the first time, I painted a room for someone who was in hospital, meaning when they returned they had a fresh and clean room to move back into. The second time, I helped out with some gardening work with Marina. The owner of the property had become ill and the garden had got a bit out of control. So what we were able to do was cut everything back to leave it in a manageable state.
Marina: This was actually my second gardening job and they were both great experiences. I enjoyed going with a big group of people, seeing this really overgrown garden and having the whole day to transform it back to its former glory. On both occasions, the homeowners had used to be really proud of their gardens and enjoyed spending time outside, but changing circumstances had stopped them from looking after them so well. At the end of the day, it was really worthwhile when we saw the reactions of the home-owners, as well as some before and after pictures.
Q: Did you enjoy the experience?
Marina: I loved it!
Tom: It was a really good experience, not only because I was able to get out of the office and do something I wasn’t able to do every day, but it was also really enjoyable to work with some colleagues.
Q: Did you think the 1% Club has been a success?
Laura: Yes, 100%. We’ve had lots of members of staff from many departments using this as an opportunity to volunteer for local causes.
Marina: Absolutely, I can imagine a lot of people like myself want to volunteer but struggle to find the time when you have family commitments, childcare and other obligations. The 1% Club allows us to do this in our work time which is really helpful.
Tom: Yeah, it’s been really good. It’s a great opportunity for the staff, because giving a little bit of our time is something so easy that we can all do. And it’s also helped establish a better relationship with the community.
Q: Going forward, what’s the future like for the 1% Club?
Laura: We definitely want to continue the Belzona 1% Club into 2017 and hopefully onwards. Also, we want to extend the number of charities we’re working with and basically help as many people as possible.
Looking to the future
So with such positive reviews, it seems that the first year of the 1% Club has been a verified success. Going forward, as the popularity of the initiative grows, hopefully more employees and charities can get involved. The bigger and better the 1% Club gets, the more it will benefit the local community and Belzona. 2017 may mark Belzona’s celebration of 65 years, but it will also be the 2nd anniversary of the 1% Club, and long may they both continue.
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