My name is Leanne Hugglestone, my role is corporate social responsibility (CSR) coordinator at Companies House. Here I provide an overview of CSR’s achievements, how it started and why I’m passionate about its development.
Companies House CSR achievements
In 2013-2014 our staff raised £10,500 for local charities and another £8,500 last year. This year staff nominated and voted for the charities they would most like to support. We had three clear winners which became our big three: Alzheimer’s Society (linked with ‘Dementia Friends’), Cancer Research Wales and Wales Air Ambulance – all funds raised throughout this year will now be distributed evenly to these charities.
In 2013 we sent out 187 volunteers, in 2014 247 volunteers, and this year we’re already on schedule to beat that figure. We’ve worked hard to build partnerships with many local community groups, charities and schools, and meet regularly with these groups to identify new ways to support them.
Over the past two years we’ve also donated hundreds of excess pieces of furniture, stationery and even training spaces for local causes to make best use of. Plus, we’ve swapped our electrical disposal company so that now we get a quarter of all laptops delivered back to us complete with an operating system, allowing us to donate them to local causes that really need digital equipment.
Our CSR Twitter feed @CHCommunityNews has been a great way to promote and highlight all of our fantastic volunteer work and has also provided an easy way to connect with our charity partners.
Back in 2011, I started The Volunteer Bank, an idea taken from a management qualification course that I’d recently enrolled on. Part of the course was to set up a Make a Difference project and so I decided to set up a volunteer bank that would highlight the one day a year volunteering opportunity available to all civil servants. (This has now been increased to three days a year, which is fantastic.)
After a year off in 2012 due to illness, next steps involved approaching our main board of directors to approve the relaunch of The Volunteer Bank. At this meeting I explained I would not be back in work if it were not for the time of all those who had helped fundraise, supported events, volunteered at the hospital, and gave their time to cancer charities. I could really relate to how important it was to encourage and motivate staff to volunteer.
Following the meeting I was approached by the head of HR to help set up a CSR strategy for Companies House. Together we looked at how we could integrate CSR into the changing culture of the Civil Service; how we could make a volunteer day part of our five-days-a-year learning target; and how we could align objectives to volunteer days by encouraging skills matching. This was really the start of my role.
In the beginning
My first task was to research, network and generally find out more about what other government agencies were doing in this field. I arranged a CSR information day and invited those who had connections with CSR, including colleagues in the department for Business, Innovations and Skills, who were at the time writing a paper on CSR in the Civil Service. My equivalents from the Intellectual Property Office, the Office of National Statistics and the MET Office also attended, being our closest colleagues geographically.
This CSR day proved to be a huge success and highlighted the great work being done in the civil service – not just in terms of the hours given by staff and departments but also in relation to the recognised business benefits. Benefits included community awareness, staff engagement, team work and a general change in motivation when staff returned to the office.
My passion for the role
I believe that volunteering and the community aspect of CSR are important to any business. It shows that they care about themselves and just as importantly, about those around them.
Through working together at Companies House we’ve seen what a huge difference we can make to our local community. We’ve provided skills and training to community groups and charities that were really in need of a helping hand. It’s so interesting as you get to meet lots of different people, get access to great services that you may not realise exist in your area and the community then start to understand what we do and what we stand for.
Our core values are: good civil service organisation; employing and looking after the health, development and wellbeing of our staff; living our values and doing what we can to improve the lives and communities around our offices.
I’m truly passionate about my job and so was delighted when I was approached to become a Civil Service ambassador, as well as being shortlisted for a National Civil Service Award. My role allows me to enable others to help people like me. My breast cancer journey has changed me and my perspectives but I hope that it has created a spark in others to keep on making a difference.