Elizabeth Breaks from ELBA (the East London Business Alliance) first contacted us in Spring this year to ask if we’d be interested in taking part in their Challenge ELBA programme. Challenge ELBA links up local voluntary organizations with companies wanting to hold volunteering events and projects for their staff and Elizabeth was hoping we could work together.
Each year ELBA links up around 14,000 volunteers with community organisations in East London. In the past they have worked with foodbanks in Tower Hamlets and Newham but they get a lot of support from companies in the city because it’s close by, so ELBA was looking to spread their work further out into East London.
More and more big companies are getting involved with community projects and they give staff paid time off for volunteering – this may be practical help like painting or gardening, or collecting donations of food and clothing around their offices and spending a day sorting and organizing these for the projects to use.
These company challenges, with 20 or 30 people can achieve in just one day what it would take an organization like us weeks to do on our own. Companies can also offer special skills or advice in professional areas like law or finance.
Since we started working with ELBA teams of volunteers from companies including XL Catlin, Chaucer, JP Morgan, Zurich, UBS and Thomson Reuters have donated food, clothing and, most importantly, their time to us.