Teambuilding, swans and rhubarb - the perfect combination?

If you are reading this blog you’ll know that TimeBank is a national volunteering charity and we definitely believe in walking the talk. So every opportunity we get, we volunteer.

As we’ve brought on three new staff members over the summer and not everyone across our offices in Scotland, Birmingham and London had met, we decided the time had come to take a day out of our working lives and volunteer together to get to know one another, do something fun and live and breathe the TimeBank ethos.

I won’t lie - the day started off with a few challenges. The staff member organising it was sick so we had to arrange to pick up all our kit (you can’t volunteer unless you’re wearing an orange TimeBank T shirt!) and in the midst of sorting this half of the team went ahead leaving me and a colleague to get the next train – which unbelievably was delayed and then cancelled because of ‘a swan on the train’ …

But once we eventually arrived and started volunteering at Organiclea, a workers cooperative growing vegetables and fruit in Chingford, the day properly got going. There were endless roles for all sorts of volunteers around the huge site like picking apples or planting winter salad – our job though was clearing a rhubarb patch of thistles and bindweed. It may sound a little dull but I can’t tell you the satisfaction of looking back across rows of rhubarb released from its stranglehold of weeds and empowered to grow! What was even more fun was that we could all do it together and spend time with different people – weeding is a levelling experience - you are all doing the same, challenged by the same depth of root issues and trying to work together to finish in time. And of course we could all chat while we did it.

Once we’d finished and cleaned our tools we headed off to Walthamstow to have a pint and a Thai meal to celebrate our day of volunteering.  Small as it is, our organisation is split across three offices so being able to put a face to a name makes picking up the phone to each another so much easier. It makes us feel like colleagues and it ensures that we truly work as a team and see ourselves as TimeBank employees who can step up to cover and support one another’s jobs as necessary whatever the geographical distance.

What heartened me most was that by the afternoon the conversation had turned to what we would do for our Christmas Party volunteering in December – the Birmingham team decided they’d organise it and we would source something ‘Christmassy and meaningful, hopefully working with one of our community partners in the West Midlands’. We always volunteer at Christmas and lead from the front, encouraging companies to volunteer before their parties and then go out and celebrate with their colleagues – a shared experience to talk about and a feel good factor to head home with, in the sure and certain knowledge that you’ve done something amazing by serving dinner and chatting to an elderly person, packing Christmas boxes for children overseas, or decorating a school or hospice. If you’d like to know more about Christmas volunteering, do take a look here.