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Encourage your employees to give back

Elissa Dennis
2nd December 2019
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Giving Tuesday 3rd December

As the long evenings draw in and the weather gets colder and more miserable, it’s easy to feel a little depressed. While it is tempting to hibernate under a duvet, making the effort to get out and do something for others is a great way to get a much-needed lift. Sparing just a bit of your time to give back has amazing benefits. Doing a good deed really does give you a rush of positivity. The act releases endorphins into the brain enhancing your mood and helping to combat stress.

For companies looking to increase employee engagement, build high-performing teams and create a culture that people want to work in, encouraging volunteering among staff is a great way to achieve this. It unites people with a common purpose, helps build new friendships and provides a genuine sense of fulfilment, beside countless other benefits for the company and society as whole.

Appraisd’s Sales Manager, Andrew Ward knows first-hand just how rewarding volunteering can be. Ahead of Giving Tuesday, a day where everyone, everywhere can do something to support the good causes that mean the most to them, he shares his experience.

Which charity do you volunteer with?

I volunteer for Switchboard LGBT+ helpline. The charity was launched in 1974 and has provided calm words to millions of people when they’ve needed help the most and had no one else they could talk to. Anyone can call in and talk to us about whatever they’d like to, no subject is off limits. Essentially, we’re there to listen but we will also refer callers to other services when needed.

What inspired you to volunteer?

There is still so much injustice in society and a lot of that is resolved through charity. As much as I love my role at Appraisd, it’s important to me to be a part of a social mission too.

What made you choose that charity?

Mental health and wellbeing are incredibly important to me and the level of mental health issues in the LGBT+ community are far higher than the national average. It makes all the difference having someone to speak to when times are hard. Particularly someone impartial. Switchboard have a long track record of making a real difference to people’s lives and I really admire their values. It felt like the right place for me to do my bit.

How much time do you devote a month?

I help for six hours a month. Usually I do a three-hour shift after work but it’s incredibly flexible and I can essentially book on when I want to

Is this the first time you’ve volunteered for a charity?

No. I previously volunteered at a youth club for 12 to 19-year olds. I really enjoyed this experience and saw for myself the difference providing a safe and fun place for young people to hang out in made to their lives and their happiness.


What do you find most rewarding about your volunteering?

The thing I enjoy most is helping people. It sounds like the most obvious answer but it’s essentially what we’re there to do. The caller isn’t always explicit in saying so, but you can tell that they’re in a better head space after the call. Just know that you’ve been able to be there for them and ease their worries is a brilliant feeling.

What’s been the most challenging aspect you’ve come across so far?

I also do phone work at Appraisd which, like Switchboard, involves a lot of listening and getting a strong understanding of a caller’s needs and wants in order to find a solution. With Appraisd, it’s my job to be consultative, suggest a direction for the caller to head in and have the answers to their questions. The approach is very different with Switchboard. It’s much more about the caller doing the talking. My role is nudging them to elaborate and ultimately help them find their own solution or direction. The challenge for me was to get out of my work mindset and know that it was okay not to have the answers to everything. Initially this felt a little unnatural but the training from Switchboard on this was superb.

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering for a charity?

Just give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose and you never know how it will make a positive impact on your work and personal life. I’ve certainly applied some of the listening skills that I’ve learnt into my role at Appraisd and I’ve met a new network of friends and professional connections. I’d say it’s an incredible way to spend your spare time.

If you would like to know more about Switchboard or are interested in supporting them go to https://switchboard.lgbt/support-us/