By: Stewart Nutter, Partner Support.
At Maintel, we take our social responsibility very seriously, and our employee Volunteer Policy is an important element of our Maintel Cares programme.
Our colleagues have the opportunity to take up to three days paid volunteering leave per year to donate their time, skills, and experience for the benefit of society, the local community, or the environment.
Here’s how Stewart Nutter from the Partner Support Team used his volunteering allowance.
“My first experience of company-managed volunteering was some years ago, helping on a community farm project. There was a young lad who had been a violent, suicidal drug addict. Within 6 months he was on the lowest dose of methadone and no risk to himself or anyone else.
It made me realise, you can spend tens of thousands of pounds on rehab and counselling, but this major turnaround was down to what was effectively, just a bit of digging.
But it’s obviously more than that. It’s someone patting him on the shoulder saying, ‘nice job, well done’. And him waking up in the morning and not thinking about when his next fix would be, but about what we were planting that day. I thought it was absolutely incredible that this project had completely changed his life.
Then I volunteered on an outward-bound course through work helping people with back injuries challenge themselves through outdoor pursuits – we did horse riding, hand cycling, and a wheelchair yomp across clifftops.
When Covid happened, I registered as an NHS first responder, which is how I became a volunteer at the local vaccination centre.
I contacted Gillian Bailey, the Operations Director (who kindly agreed to act as my referee) and went for my training and induction into the ‘Burnley Jabs Army’ team, one Sunday. *(My work/volunteer day this year was used for the MECC training day, which is mentioned later)
Because I work full time I mainly volunteered on evenings or weekends, though there were some days I needed to finish earlier to get to a shift on time, and I was supported by the company to do that.
We worked in teams of 8, escorting the public through the strange surroundings of a leisure centre-turned-medical facility. I spent a lot of time greeting arrivals at the door – asking if they had symptoms or lived with someone who had Covid, temperature checking and handing out masks.
On one occasion, a lady in her 80s came to the front desk, and as usual I asked if she was sharing a house with someone who was positive – she fought back her tears as she told me her husband had died 2 weeks earlier from Covid. I wanted to just hug her, but obviously couldn’t. All I could do was make sure everyone kept an eye on her. It was so heart-breaking to have someone distressed so close, and having to keep my distance.
More recently I became a volunteer at Church on the Street in Burnley, helping Pastor Mick Fleming and his team provide support for people with addictions, homeless people, and those living on the breadline.
On Christmas Day we served Christmas dinner and handed out gifts to over 110 people in need. Being part of that has made me feel more confident to get involved when someone needs help. No one sets out to be an addict – it grabs people and it won’t let go. I believe that the best thing you can do for people living with addictions is just help them get through to tomorrow. Yes, they may spend your money on drink or drugs, but it might get them through today, and tomorrow could be the day that they decide to get help.
Engaging with my local community has made me appreciate everything I have. It’s opened my eyes to how some people are really unfortunate in the way life has turned out for them. I don’t take my warm, safe environment for granted.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the attitude towards volunteers. At the vaccination centre, the NHS staff treated us just the same, as part of one big team. I wondered if I would be treated as a dogsbody, but the paid clinicians showed us a lot of respect.
Earlier this year, I used my paid volunteering day to attend a ‘Make Every Conversation Count’ mental health awareness training course. During a team conversation, I commented that I was ‘just a volunteer’ and was quickly told by one of the BPRCVS managers to never say I’m JUST a volunteer! Although some volunteers may not see what they do as a big gesture, I suppose it is using some of your own personal time to make a difference to someone else’s life.”
Our volunteering policy encourages technical education and charity support that delivers real benefits and makes a positive difference to our local communities.
At Maintel, we understand that volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because their contribution is priceless.