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University challenged with new community volunteer scheme

1st September 2008 – for immediate release

Staff at Aston University rose to the challenge last week as they swapped their day jobs for gardening gloves and piloted a new community volunteering scheme.

With an initial project to develop a landscaped garden at a local school, 23 University staff were granted time away from their workplaces to do their bit for the community. In collaboration with Community Service Volunteers (CSV), the charitable team got to work on Thursday (28th August) at Aston Manor School. They created an attractive garden, educational vegetable patch and landscaped seating area in time for the new school term.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julia King, gave permission for staff to spend time away from their workplaces. Staff were provided with full training, health and safety instruction, protective clothing and on-site supervision by CSV. It is hoped the challenge will lead to a University-wide voluntary scheme later in the year - developing more positive links with the local community and providing staff with a rewarding and educational experience.

Professor Julia King, Vice Chancellor, Aston University, said:

“As well as helping one of our local schools and strengthening the University’s links with the community, the feedback I have had from staff involved is that the project was a great networking opportunity – a chance to meet colleagues from across the University as well as from other places – hard work, and, importantly, a lot of fun. This was a pilot scheme for a staff volunteering programme which we hope to roll out across the University over the coming months.”

 

Aston University staff roll their sleeves up for the voluntary project in the grounds of Aston Manor School. (Front row, left-right) (Staff Development), Keith Thomas (Director of Human Resources) and Jessica Butler (Human Resources). (Back row, left-right) Liz Hoare (Business Partnership Unit), Martin Johnson (Chief Operating Officers Office) and Amanda Bishop (Schools and Colleges Liaison).

 

Guy Dixon, Operations Manager, CSV Environment, added:

“This is a great example of how volunteers can make a real difference in their local community by giving their time to creating something really worthwhile. The new garden will open up the health and social benefits of organic gardening to the community of Aston.”

CSV Environment works with local communities across Birmingham to improve the local environment and encourage healthier lifestyles. They are now looking for would be gardeners to join weekly voluntary sessions, starting in September (telephone 0121 327 6054 for more information). The new garden in Aston is supported through the Aston Pride Health and Regeneration Team programme.

Ends

Notes to editors

For more information on Aston University contact Laura Plotnek, University Communications Team, Aston University on 0121 204 4549 or l.plotnek@aston.ac.uk.www.aston.ac.uk

For more information on CSV Environment contact Tom Freeland, National Development Manager on 0121 322 2025 or tom@csvenvironment.org.uk www.csv.org.uk

Photo captions

• Volunteer Scheme 2 – (Front row, left-right) Denise Jackson (Staff Development), Keith Thomas (Director of Human Resources) and Jessica Butler (Human Resources). (Back row, left-right) Liz Hoare (Business Partnership Unit), Martin Johnson (Chief Operating Officers Office) and Amanda Bishop (Schools and Colleges Liaison).

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