1 June 2016

Between 1 and 12 June 2016, Volunteers’ Week celebrates the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. This is also true of Amey, who carry out works under the Streets Ahead contract on behalf Sheffield City Council. They encourage their employees to give back to the communities they’re working in all year round.

Every single Amey employee is entitled to one day each year that they can dedicate to a project in the community. The city has so far benefitted from a wide- range of help and expertise, from helping to cut back and renovate overgrown communal areas, to volunteering at local hospices and charity shops.

In recognition of the week, we spoke to Streets Ahead arboriculturist, Cal Williams, who recently organised a community day for himself and a few of his co-workers, after he recognised that a local community group was on the lookout for some helping hands.

Cal was working out on a Sheffield road when he was approached by Richard Burton from the Steel Inn Young Peoples Resource Centre, part of Sheffield’s Manor and Castle Development, to see whether he may be able to help with providing some wood chippings. Richard was renovating the grounds that belong to the project’s building.

The centre provides a range of support to people within the local community, including employment and skills, health and wellbeing, community engagement and the support of vulnerable adults and children and young people.

Cal said: “After I was asked by Richard whether we might be able to provide some materials for the project’s grounds, I saw an opportunity in how I, and some of the people I work with, might be able to help a little bit more in turning the land behind the building into a more useful space. For me and the team I work with, trees and looking after green spaces is a passion, so why shouldn’t we use our passion and skills to give something to the local community?

“I hadn’t yet used the community day that I was entitled to, so I rallied up a few of the team to help out and we decided to offer the chippings as well as spend a day with the group helping them to work on the garden area.”

As well as arranging to provide the hands needed to get the work done, Cal also arranged for Streets Ahead to provide and plant a range of fruit trees, to create an orchard, and some Beech trees.

Cal and four of his team mates – Joe Poulton, Michael Marshall, Jack Staniforth and Matthew Watson – spent a day with student volunteers from the group clearing the area and planting the new trees, laying paving stones and filling large areas with wood chippings.

Cal added: “We worked really hard on the day to complete the work and it was great to do something together outside of our everyday work. It was a fantastic feeling knowing that we were giving back to the local community, but it was also a good teambuilding opportunity.”

Richard intends to create an area that the whole of the community can use, even installing a pizza oven! He said: “The day went really well and the team were excellent. We were all very impressed with what they were able to do in the community garden in just a day. Cal and the team put real effort into the tasks they undertook and were very helpful and friendly to our students who were also helping out.

“I would like to thank all of the team for not only the trees that they donated and planted but also the effort they put into completing the tasks they set themselves. All of the team were very knowledgeable, advising us on the best location for the fruit trees to create an orchard and how to care for the trees to ensure they thrive.

“Without Cal and the team’s kind offer to help, our garden would be nowhere near as complete as it now is, and all of us at Steel Inn are extremely grateful for their hard work and positive attitude. Without such volunteers reaching out, our goals just wouldn’t be possible. We would love to have the group join us again to work on the community garden.”

Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “There are many people who use their spare time to volunteer to help others and we are pleased to be supporting volunteer week whereby we can recognise and praise them for their efforts.

“It is great to see that Cal and his colleagues have used their community day to help a local community group create an outdoor space that their visitors and others can enjoy.”