ELBA Getting Stuck In

Written by Kita Berman van Heerden, Challenge:ELBA Project Manager

As a member of ELBA’s Challenge team, I am very used to encouraging others to volunteer and devote their time to a cause they feel passionate about. At ELBA, all employees are allocated two days a year for volunteering leave, which provides a great opportunity to give back, make a difference to others and build stronger connections with colleagues, outside of an office environment.

A few weeks ago, I was able to use this opportunity to get involved with a Just Turn Up Day organised by the ARC Centre through the BIG Alliance, our sister organisation. ARC is a grassroots community space in Islington; a borough, which historically has had some of the lowest amounts of green spaces across the whole of London. They have a variety of resources for local residents, including a food bank and a community garden. I, along with colleagues from ELBA and BIG Alliance got involved with this brilliant opportunity and helped with the replanting of 4,000 plants and trees donated from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Starting the day with a thorough briefing from the dedicated staff at ARC, we all got stuck right in: kitted out with gloves, spades, shovels and digging forks, topped up with a lot of motivation to get gardening. It was amazing getting to meet other volunteers and learn about their backgrounds, ranging from ELBA’s corporate partners to local residents who could point to their homes from the centre.

It was a great experience. After a short period of time we had all found our rhythm, dividing up areas into small groups and sharing funny advice about the best angles to tackle the dry soil using the digging forks. Once the ground had been prepared, we were all called away to help unload a large delivery of the plants. Thousands of plants filled the green space within minutes, showing all of us just how much hard work goes into winning ‘Gold’ at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This is the first initiative of the Royal Horticultural Society to ensure that all the gardens from the show are donated to encourage environmental sustainability.

After a hard day’s work, we left with a real sense of pride and achievement, even if we did wake up a little stiff the morning after.

In the post-pandemic hybrid working model, it can be difficult to find opportunities to get together with colleagues in an office-alternative environment. Volunteering offers the perfect space for team building with the added feel-good factor of giving back. If you too would like to get involved in a team challenge, contact a member of the Challenge team.

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