Celebrating National Volunteers’ Week at PEM.

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Last week we joined in the celebrations for National Volunteers’ Week and chose to spotlight our very own volunteers, as well as take a look back at our team volunteer days over the past year.

Here is what we’ve been up to:

July 2023

In July, 26 employees enjoyed a lovely day volunteering at the Ascension Burial Ground with Cambridge City Council. We supported by cutting down weeds and invasive plants and raked, and raked some more!

PEM volunteer with Cambridge city council in clearing graveyard ground from weeds and brambles

September 2023

In September we sponsored and volunteered at Power2Inspire’s PowerHouse Games for the 4th year running. Founder John Willis developed the PowerHouse Games to ensure ‘no one is left on the bench’ and PEM volunteers were teamed up with Cambridge University Rugby players, one student from a state school, one from a private school and one from the Castle School, which is for children with special educational needs.

12 PEM volunteers enjoyed kwik cricket, boccia, blindfolded goalball, touch rugby, walking football and seated volleyball. We adapted each game to fit the needs of our team which ensured it was fun for all.

Power2Inspire PEM volunteers

November 2023

23 members of PEM were fortunate enough to spend a sunny autumn day volunteering for charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CPPF) at their beautiful site, Wandlebury Country Park.

We helped clear a specific part of the park to allow for new growth and help provide a biodiverse and varied habitat for di­fferent types of animals, as well as tree-felling, collecting and clearing trees and branches, sharpening branches to create stakes, creating natural hedging and wood splitting.

‘The Team at PEM were incredibly hard-working and enthusiastic. The work they carried out on the day really contributed towards our Woodland Restoration Project’. – James, Ranger.

In April 2023 the PEM Charitable Trust also donated £2,000 to CPPF, which helped fund the planting of new trees.

PEM Staff in forest volunteering at Cambridge Past Present and Future

May 2024

On Friday 3 May, 5 members of PEM volunteered at C3 Impact in Cambridge. 5 PEM employees helped prepare lunch and dessert for their weekly ‘Food Truck Fridays’, where they feed up to 120 individuals completely free of charge. For a lot of the guests, this is the only opportunity they get to have a hot meal and a conversation.

It was amazing to see the impact a somewhat small thing (to most of us) like a home-cooked meal could make to so many people. Not only that, but it was a safe place to sit, relax, get warm and enjoy a chat with others.

C3 volunteers helping cook

June 2024

7 team members volunteered at Co Farm in Cambridge on Friday 7 June. Co Farm is a community farm project which grows a huge variety of produce, some of which supplies local restaurants, some is on sale at a reduced price, and some is also donated to those in need.

Employees got stuck in and planted pumpkin plants, learnt some great skills and tips on how-to grow quality-British produce, and picked some delicious beans and strawberries.

PEM team with spades help Cambridge Co Farm project plant pumpkins

At PEM we are fortunate enough to be gifted two volunteer days per year, and we sure do put them to use!

Meet our team members below and find out how they use their volunteering days:

Kirsty Pointer

Tea Dance for Active Fenland

In February I volunteered with my local council’s Active Fenland team when they hosted their monthly Tea Dance at the Chatteris Community Centre. As I had been taking dance lessons I went along to help encourage the ladies and gentlemen who attended the afternoon without a partner to come up on the dance floor to have a go at the various dances.

We had a go at the rumba, jive, quick step and the social foxtrot. Free refreshments were on offer and I helped the team prepare and serve these. My favourite part of the afternoon would have to be when a lady who had recently recovered from a hip operation asked if I could do the samba dance with her so she could give her new hip a spin around the dance floor!

Luke Stirland

Teaching English and providing community support in a deprived area of Nashik, India

My wife and I will be heading to India later this year to teach English and provide community support in Nashik, India. My wife’s cousin volunteers helping teach English and after having planned to be there for a year, she has now been there 9 years and is married with two young boys. Her and her husband provide free English lessons to children from a slum in Nashik, which is supported by a Christian charity who we have supported for a while.

We will be helping them deliver the lessons and support the children who attend, many of whom are effectively homeless and so often live alongside my wife’s cousin and her family.

Another key focus is to educate the teenage boys on fair treatment of women as the area suffers greatly from domestic violence and restrictions placed on girls’ education. The free lessons also mean that families are more willing to let girls attend. We will be going out in October and volunteering for about 5 days of which 2 will be covered by PEM’s volunteer days. We will then hopefully have some time at the end of the visit to explore the local area with them.

Shona Brading

Power2Inspire’s Super Sensory 1k

In May, PEM sponsored a stand at Power2Inspire’s SuperSensory event in Histon. This is an inclusive 1k for all, organised by John Willis (the organiser of the PowerHouse Games).

The aim of the event is for it to be accessible for all, even those in a wheelchair. There were 5 different stands for the 5 different senses.

The kids and I got together as many instruments, pots and pans and
anything that made noise as we could and had loads of fun running the ‘hearing’ stand! It was a great day for all.

Rachel Blunt

Beer Festival for Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre

This year – for its 50th event – the Cambridge Beer Festival’s chosen charity was the Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre. I spent Friday night of the Beer Festival volunteering with CWRC. Activities included manning their stall in the tent, engaging the public in conversations about the work the charity does, collecting donations from festival-goers and most importantly collecting glasses / trying to convince people to donate their glass to us at the end of the night, rather than cashing in their £4 deposit. Each box had 12 slots for glasses, i.e. each box was worth £48 to the charity. We’d been told that Thursday night’s team had collected 37 boxes so we were determined to beat that (I’m yet to hear if
we did!)

It was a really enjoyable evening, everyone was in good spirits and we got a couple of cheers to support the charity. People were (mostly!) being generous with their glasses and seemed keen to support the work the charity does. Based on Sturton Street in Cambridge, CWRC offers a community space for women, running creative activities and providing general support (foodbank vouchers, housing advice, access to grants etc). They also provide specific support for women affected by domestic abuse.

Overall, a lovely (muddy!) evening with a great group of volunteers, raising money for a good cause.

Bethan Vaghela

Chair of Bury C of E Primary School Local Governing Body

I have been the chair of Bury C of E’s school’s LGB since Christmas 2023. Prior to that I was Vice Chair and a parent governor for the past 7 years. My responsibilities include chairing and running each meeting as well as being a critical friend for the Head and Senior Leadership Team. I may go into school at any one time and help with recruitment, policy approval, class visits, school trips and also I have a safeguarding responsibility. I am also the lead Governor for mental health and inclusion, and I check on the wellbeing of staff as well as running a Lego Club for the children. Coming up, I will be running an annual School Summer BBQ which raises money for the PTA. This is a lovely event for all the school community to socialise, relax and have fun. This also involves cutting literally thousands of bread rolls!

Trustee and Treasurer for 1st Bury and Upwood Scouting Group

As is often a job hazard with being a qualified accountant, I became treasurer for my local scouting group. This involves paying all bills, compiling monthly accounts, claiming gift aid, discussion with leaders and ensuring our scouting unit can function financially. We were severely hampered by the pandemic and forced to close our troop temporarily due to lack of income and lack of leaders. But now we are blossoming and have a thriving Beavers and Cubs pack once more. Scouting is an incredibly valuable local community resource helping children to make friends and grow and develop but also lets them try activities that they would never try anywhere else.

Coach and Facilities Manager for Ramsey Colts Football Development

I help to coach the Ramsey Colts Typhoons U8 team. This involves Thursday night training and matches every Saturday from September to May in all weathers! On top of this, many hours go into match organisation, trying to find a ref, training plans and admin for all the players. I also have a first aid and safeguarding responsibility for all the children in my team. As a facilities manager, I hire out our amazing facilities at the football ground for private events and parties. I also help my husband with an inclusive football team he has just set up in Ramsey for children aged 6-16 with additional needs. At the moment, I make teas and coffees every Sunday and give the parents a well-earned hot drink during the session, but something tells me he will rope me into helping with coaching before too long!