Thame and District Rotary’s Business in the Community Scheme has involved volunteers from local businesses joining employees from other businesses and undertaking community projects, during company time. The scheme was initiated this year when Kubota Ltd, Lightfoots Solicitors, Lucy Electric Ltd, The Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa, Richardsons Chartered Accountants and Waitrose all agreed to participate.
The first project undertaken was at Lewknor’s Blue Cross when the staff and vets room were redecorated. This was followed on 4th May when an energetic team of ten employees from Richardsons Chartered Accountants, Lightfoot’s Solicitors, Kubota, Waitrose and The Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa created an allotment for the children at Chilworth House School.
Chilworth House is a provider of specialist education and care for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs, communication difficulties (autistic spectrum conditions, Asperger’s Syndrome, speech, language and communication needs) and complex learning needs.
Michelle Johnson Head Teacher explained “The school wanted to convert an area of ground, which had been unused for several years and overgrown with weeds into an allotment Access to an allotment is a really valuable resource for the development of the pupils “life skills” which is extremely important for children with special needs. Also, the vegetables grown will be used to educate the children about healthy diets. The ongoing development and care of the allotment will be carried out by the pupils supervised by a member of staff. It is the “kick starting” of this allotment by the really hard-working volunteers which will now make this possible. They have done a brilliant job”
The monetary value of this first project is estimated at around £1,200 to Chilworth House however, the benefits have not been solely financial. During the day some pupils have benefited by meeting the volunteers while the work was being carried out, the businesses have been able to support a worthwhile project in their own community while interacting with the pupils and volunteers have networked with colleagues and employees from other local companies.
Stewart Dales, Partner and Compliance Manager at Waitrose said, “It’s really important to us that we support causes that are at the heart of the community in which we trade, and our Partner Volunteering scheme provides a fantastic opportunity for our Partners to take time out of their day-to-day job roles to give back to local good causes, charities, and projects”. Gillian Knight, one of the Waitrose Partners involved on the day said: “We’re really pleased to have been able to support the great work of Chilworth House School, and it was wonderful to meet new people and make new friends whilst doing something so worthwhile for the community”.
John Singer, President of Thame and District Rotary added, “The programme seems to have appealed to companies and employees alike and its clearly benefitting the community. The project at Chilworth House School was a little different in as much that we were able to interact with some pupils and it’s really good that we have been able to provide them with a new resource which will benefit their future development-most rewarding”.
Maria Seal, a volunteer from Kubota UK Ltd added” Kubota UK were pleased to be able to help out at Chilworth House School as part of the volunteer programme by The Rotary Club. It was interesting to understand what the school do and how they will utilise the allotment for the children’s development in the future. The day was hard work but we all pulled together and managed to complete the allotment in plenty of time and were even able to tidy up some of the surrounding areas as well.
John concluded:” This is another example of how Rotary and Businesses, working together, can make things happen and we intend that this will be a regular event. We are looking forward to undertaking our next project at Thomley. In the future we plan to promote the scheme to attract additional companies and would invite charities and similar organisations who have suitable projects to contact Rotary on www.thame.rotary1090.org or connect with us via www.facebook.com/thamerotary .“