From volunteering at food banks to rescuing frogs, workers at Sheffield’s highway contractor Amey have been taking time out of their day jobs to take part in charity projects, with 580 staff donating the equivalent time of two people working full time for nearly a year.

The initiative gives Amey employees, including those working on Sheffield City Council’s £2.2bn Streets Ahead highways contract, a paid day off to support charities close to their hearts, with the only stipulations being that it must be in the local community and support an environmental, educational or employment aim.

Streets Ahead Community and Employee Engagement Officer, Helen Johnson, said:

“We get some wild and wonderful ideas. Some people take the chance to support a charity they have been involved with for years, others take part in a charity fundraiser and others just get stuck in with an organisation they’ve come across during their day job. I do one every year and it’s always great fun.”

Project manager Andy Layberry is one of the scheme’s most fervent supporters, having done a community involvement day every year, rain or shine, for the past five years – the last two with Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

“This year about ten of us helped out on a biodiversity project by cutting back a huge heather at Blacka Moor Nature Reserve in the Eastern Peak District, and last year we rescued about 200 frogs from land behind Ecclesall Road to protect them while vegetation was cut back,” he said.

“I enjoy it. On average I spend about 70 per cent of my time in the office so it’s nice to get away from my desk, and it’s good to see another side to life and the challenges other people face. A lot of people are struggling and it’s good to know that we can help support local projects.”

One local organisation to benefit from Amey’s community zeal has been the award-winning Burncross Action Team.For three years a group of colleagues brought together by Amey’s community steward for the area, Vince Varnam, have devoted their day to end of season gardening of community planters and pruning for the Action Team, which this year won a coveted ‘Yorkshire in Bloom’ platinum award.

Burncross Action Team chair Brenda Hind said: “We are very grateful for all the support and help from Streets Ahead and we hope our partnership will continue for many years to come.”

Staff members have also taken part in a range of other charity activities, including collecting food bank donations for the Trussell Trust, using their professional skills to maintain historic vehicles for a Sheffield museum and running the Sheffield half marathon with the city’s fundraiser John ‘Pram Man’ Burkhill; helping him collect £1,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

To find out more about the Streets Ahead programme visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/streetsahead