Staff at CGI rolled up their sleeves and took part in a range of activities across three different team days, which included reviving a canalside allotment, creating an 18m-long flower bed and making a new bat habitat.
‘The benefits were immediate’
It was Kathryn, a senior project manager, who first got in touch with our team in the Wales & South West region to get the ball rolling.
“I wanted our team to do something worthwhile outside in nature, that was also covid friendly, community focused and incorporated biodiversity as a social value.
I knew that volunteer work was going on in my local area. Being a dog walker and having a canal very close by, I often walk along the towpaths."
It didn't take long for the benefits of being by water and spending face-to-face time with colleagues to surface.
"The benefits were immediate, literally as soon as we met up and certainly once the day was over and we could see what a difference we had made to the sites.
The team thoroughly enjoyed themselves, being outside by the calmness of water. It was good to have face to face banter after 18 months of working from home, isolated.
It wasn't just a day out, we worked hard, just in a very different way to our day jobs, which made a refreshing change."
For Kathryn, it was also a day of discovery and appreciation.
“My perception has changed in that I will be more appreciative of the canals and the fact they are calming and free. We are very lucky really.
“It’s easy to take these things for granted and not think about the work that goes into them to keep them clean, safe and maintained given their age. We certainly hope to continue our work with the Canal & River Trust in the future.
‘Meeting colleagues has made me more confident’
As a recent technical graduate at CGI, Kathryn’s colleague, Lottie, was new to the area and discovered a lot about her surroundings through the volunteering day.
“Having just moved to the area, I had no idea that canals existed nearby. The restoration of a community garden and allotment next to the Kennet & Avon canal in Devizes was a great way to see a community come together and care about a local piece of land.
I could see how the Trust staff and volunteers have formed a little family, and how important the charity is for the community.
The public would come over to the gardens, expressing their appreciation. It was nice to see that even though we were having fun it was also a valued piece of work.
The canals and nearby areas had been maintained beautifully, so it is interesting to think what other areas I have unknowingly walked through that have been maintained in a similar way.”
But it wasn’t just her new local area that Lottie learnt about. She also got well acquainted with her colleagues, and even discovered a few unknowns about herself.
“Being a recent graduate, I got to meet a lot of new team members I hadn’t crossed paths with before. Meeting more of my colleagues has certainly made me more confident in day-to-day work, and I feel much more a part of the CGI team.
I’m also surprised at how much I enjoy gardening and have since bought a few plants for my house!”
‘Overwhelmingly positive feedback from the team’
Contracts and commercial manager David also arranged a much-needed team day in Bath for his colleagues.
“Covid had prevented us from getting together as a team for so long, so the opportunity to socialise in a non-work environment was fantastic. Everyone really embraced the day and went out of their way to spend time with each other.”
As the organiser, it was important for David that everyone was catered for, and that wellbeing benefits were felt by all.
“There was a great sense of achievement of taking a patch of grass and creating an attractive planted area.
The team thoroughly enjoyed their day. There were suitable activities for all ages, abilities and interests, which engaged a diverse group. That is not easy to achieve.
As the team lead, the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the team was the best part.”
‘It was therapeutic and a lovely way to reconnect’
One of those team members was Eniko, who enjoyed working together in person with her colleagues, and learnt a lot along the way.
“I would have never thought that some canals were run by charities, neither did I expect clearing out a canal to be so fun. I think it’s thanks to the lovely team who organised the event and the spirit of the team.
For some of us, this was the first opportunity to meet our colleagues since joining the company and what better way to do so than in an informal setting whilst doing something to give back to the community.
My personal highlights were drawing the labels for the flower beds and chalk painting of the nearby footpaths. It was very therapeutic and a lovely way to reconnect.”
Our thanks go to Bath & North East Somerset Council for supporting the corporate team day activity at Bath, and also to landscape architects Churchman Thornhill Finch who donated their expertise and time to the creation of the flower bed. This activity was part of a wider project, the Bath River Line, which is creating better quality routes for cycling and walking, improving biodiversity and climate change resilience.
‘My mental health benefitted’
Lizzy was at the Saul Junction day, cutting down brambles in a hedgerow, learning about local wildlife from one of our ecologists and installing bat boxes. For her, it was a boost to her mental wellbeing that made the day so worthwhile.
“I really enjoyed having a day out, as I’ve been so isolated working from home since the start of the pandemic. It was great to meet the volunteers as well as other CGI members I wouldn’t have otherwise interacted with.
It was so nice just to be outside for a day, learning about the wildlife, and getting to know volunteers and their motivations for volunteering. They all seem really nice, enthusiastic people who care a lot about the charity.
It was a worthwhile day, and I feel my mental health benefitted.”
Our wider partnership with CGI
Our corporate partnership with CGI began in 2014 with a canal adoption, which stretched across multiple regions within our network.
CGI say: "This partnership enables us to offer a wide variety of volunteering opportunities to our teams right across the UK. It’s a great opportunity for our members to get together and spend a day during something positive for our local communities and the environment as well as supporting the mental health of our members."
Last date edited: 23 February 2022