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Corporate Social Responsibility, perspectives from Keep Wales Tidy

Logo: Keep Wales Tidy

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a phrase passed around by businesses and other organisations and is taken to many different levels. Importantly, well organised CSR is very good for the image of the company and the wellbeing of staff who take part.

Replacing a rustic bench using storm damaged trees (Keep Wales Tidy
Replacing a rustic bench using storm damaged trees (Keep Wales Tidy

For Keep Wales Tidy, one of Wales’ leading environmental charities, CSR is an opportunity to make significant positive changes to local communities and the environment across Wales. Sometimes an area needs a big piece of work doing before a community group can take over responsibility, sometimes there is no community group nearby and a piece of work needs the help of many hands primarily for the benefit of the environment. Often CSR activities help employees to understand first-hand how things such as microplastics, flytipping, or invasive species impact on the environment and people’s lives. Importantly, it encourages people to come outside and be the difference.

There are hardly any examples of the hundreds of CSR volunteers we have organised events for not enjoying what they have done. Contrariwise, there are many examples of business volunteers saying that they weren’t looking forward to it, but then really enjoyed it and found it valuable. Most end up recycling more and think about what they buy. The hope is that by volunteering with us, we can help to motivate, enthuse and educate staff around environmental issues while developing their own team(s) within their workplace.

Helping to do a beach clean (Keep Wales Tidy)
Helping to do a beach clean (Keep Wales Tidy)

We have had staff who have gone on to join community groups outside of work and some who have signed up as Keep Wales Tidy Litter Champions. Businesses see what we do and often ask us for help to look at their own waste including plastics, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and paper shredding, all of which Keep Wales Tidy can help them to deliver. These relationships are mutually beneficial and help our charity to gain crucial non grant-funded income. Frequently, Keep Wales Tidy uses support from CSR days to complete contract or smaller grant funded projects without the need for heavy machinery. This has proven to be very useful in very sensitive or inaccessible areas.

Helping to build gabions on a nature reserve (Keep Wales Tidy)
Helping to build gabions on a nature reserve (Keep Wales Tidy)

Health and wellbeing is taken so seriously and the positive effects of doing something beneficial for local communities or the environment on their wellbeing cannot be understated. Volunteering a day with us can burn a thousand calories more than if the member of staff was sitting in their office in front of a computer. These all help to reduce stress which is one of the biggest issues in the modern workplace. Something funny normally happens during a day and this is fondly remembered by staff who take part. Staff learn new things about their colleagues which they may never have known outside of the work environment. Problem solving, communication and leadership skills also come out on CSR days with us.

From Keep Wales Tidy’s perspective, CSR days can often be quite challenging and there is a lot of work involved. We need to be able to plan the event, the date and times, brief the teams about the work beforehand, ensure there is enough equipment so that the work can be done safely and is fulfilling for staff. We work with partners and land owners to make sure permissions are in place and if it is a litterpick that it is removed afterwards. We have a responsibility for health and safety and ensure risk assessments are in place beforehand and followed through on the day. We ensure a safety briefing is given at the start of the day and that all equipment is safe and suitable for its intended use. Our experienced staff have to keep an eye on everyone and they work very hard to make sure that everyone is having fun while also working hard to complete the task. There is always a fantastic buzz at the end of a CSR day and it is very rewarding for our staff too knowing that they have played their part in making it end this way.

For more information about CSR opportunities with Keep Wales Tidy, contact Chris Partridge on chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.cymru.

First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with the National Trust on 12 February 2018

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