Thorntons urges business community to volunteer

Thorntons urges business community to volunteer

Pictured (L-R): Sue Arrowsmith Rodger, Linda Swan and Arlene Napier of Tayside Cancer Support

Thorntons is urging other businesses to commit to staff volunteering, saying it adds value to employees’ professional and personal lives.

In 2020, the firm signed up to Dundee-based Social Good Connect, looking to help staff feel connected during the challenges of lockdown. Launched by CEO Caroline McKenna during the first lockdown, the social enterprise makes employee volunteering simple by connecting employees with their perfect opportunities through digital search and match technology.

Sue Arrowsmith Rodger, legal director in the firm’s St Andrews office has now been volunteering with Dundee-based Tayside Cancer Support (TCS) for around 18 months. She has joined the charity’s team of befrienders, providing a fortnightly phone-based service for the charity’s clients, many of whom are living with cancer.

She said: “Although the part I play at TCS may feel relatively small and I can volunteer in small chunks of time, I know it makes a huge difference to the people I’m helping. The people we support are on an emotional rollercoaster, with diagnoses and treatment options for cancer changing all the time, and it’s a lot to process and cope with. I supported one client for a year whose family member had cancer, and now I am supporting someone new, who has a diagnosis of cancer herself and has just started her treatment journey.

“Often people just need a place to offload and vent in confidence about the challenges they’re facing. They don’t want to burden their own families with their deepest fears or concerns and I can feel that they’re keeping their emotions locked up. Speaking in confidence to a volunteer gives them a chance to drop the brave face and open up. Working in law you tend to be solutions-oriented, whereas befriending is about listening. It’s a useful distinction to make in life as well.”

Caroline McKenna believes businesses can make a significant difference to charities. She said: “We are often approached by charities seeking skilled support to run and grow their operations. They’re seeking board members, trustees, PR advisors, SEO specialists, HR help, the list goes on. What’s more, many of us are unaware of how useful our professional and personal skills really are, and how giving back can be as simple as spending 30 minutes or an hour sharing skills we already have.”

Craig Nicol, partner at Thorntons, said: “Social Good Connect was ready-made and it fits our culture. Volunteering with the support of your company adds value to your job and your personal life. What makes this platform different is that it matches employees with causes that really matter to them and helps them find specific opportunities to volunteer in that area. Half the work is already done for you once you’ve entered your profile.”

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