2017 Volunteer of the Year

Graeme Stephen of TH Real Estate (pictured centre here receiving his Volunteer of the Year award from Ian Parkes, CEO of ELBA and Miles Leonard, Communications & Marketing Manager at Ellingham Employment Services) was chosen by ELBA staff as the Volunteer of the Year 2017. Graeme is TH Real Estate’s IT Support Manager. He was nominated for his work on a range of different volunteering projects, most notably his IT audit and office restructure with Ellingham Employment Services.

Graeme has shown exceptional commitment in his volunteering over the course of 2017. He has worked with Ellingham Employment Services, a charity supporting adults with disabilities to fulfil their potential, on an IT audit and office restructure, delivering in kind support valued at over £6,000. Graeme also facilitated a Career Insight Visit for students at Tower Hamlets College, gave advice to Walthamstow based charity, The Mill E17 and mentored an IT student at London Metropolitan University. ELBA staff members voted Graeme ELBA Volunteer of the Year 2017 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the east London community.

Jonathan Tait, Project Manager in the Connect ELBA Team, who nominated Graeme, said: “Graeme is a fantastic example of a volunteer who sought to go above and beyond in all of his projects. He really took the time to fully engage with each activity, ensuring that he gave the best possible support. Graeme approached every opportunity with incredible enthusiasm, making him an absolute pleasure to work with. Several different organisations have really benefitted from his support”.

We now take a look back at the reasons why Graeme volunteered and what he felt that he gained from the experience

Why did you volunteer?
I have worked in the City of London for 30 years and all the companies that I have worked for have actively encouraged volunteering. I have been involved with charity work nearly all my life and have experienced the benefits from both sides – as a volunteer and also a recipient of support. It may sound cliché, but London life is so fast-paced nowadays that you can forget there are plenty of people who are less fortunate, and it’s crucial to spend the time giving back.

Why do you think volunteering is important?
We all have different skills and outlooks – all of which can help charities in achieving their goals. Sometimes we need to put life into perspective and realise that, at some point, you may call on a charity for help yourself so it’s important to give something back when you can.

Running a charity is like running a business, so they often need help with these skills too. A good example is IT in the workplace. I am keen to help the organisations supported by ELBA save on IT costs, and also streamline their practices to allow them to concentrate on their main goals.

Would you recommend volunteering to a colleague and if so why?
It’s a must! If I had it my way, I would have a compulsory volunteering day for all employees to help with a charitable organisation, be it local to them or near to where they work. TH Real Estate is a great company to work for as they actively encourage the business to get more involved in charities and this is endorsed from the top down, including senior members of the business taking time out of their busy schedule to attend and get bossed around for once! We have a great take up globally with our volunteering programme – the great fun had by all and the associated word of mouth is the best promotion when looking for new recruits!

Volunteering days are a good way for members of the business to meet each other outside of the stresses of the working day. I have seen colleagues show a different side to their personalities outside of work and their peers see this, which is a way to generate positive team spirit in the day-to-day working environment.

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