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A rewarding experience for Words for Work corporate volunteers

HR Manager for Eric Robinson Solicitors, Lisa Rome, volunteered at a school in Southampton as part of our Words for Work programme.

During 12 sessions run over six weeks, Lisa and five of her colleagues supported 11 pupils at Upper Shirley High School to develop employability skills and increase their confidence.

When looking for a way to give back to their local community, Eric Robinson Solicitors felt the Words for Work programme would be an excellent fit for their company. Lisa said:

“We really liked the concept of the programme and how it gave us the opportunity to use our own business skills in a valuable way to help young people.”

After receiving training from local partner Solent EBP, Lisa and the Eric Robinson team worked with a group of pupils aged 13-14 who needed additional literacy support. In a Dragon’s Den style challenge, teams were asked to come up with a unique product and pitch it to a panel in the final week. Each session focused on a different element of their business plan including marketing, finance and branding. Lisa added:

“As we all work in a professional environment across different areas of the company, my colleagues and I really felt we could contribute to each session. Using our career experience, we were able to share business knowledge with the pupils that teachers may not have been able to, which was extremely rewarding.”
Words for Work
The Eric Robinson team were impressed by the pupils’ enthusiasm and how their skills developed over six weeks. The programme also had an impact on their school work outside the sessions, with all pupils’ improving by at least one level of progress. Lisa continued:

“The pupils really enjoyed taking part in the challenge and were even working on their pitches outside of school, taking on board feedback and advice we’d given them. At the end of the programme you could see a huge improvement in their communication skills and confidence levels – they all presented professionally, using appropriate business language, tone and pace.”

Lisa also shared the impact the programme had on her and her colleagues as volunteers:

“Although we were all slightly apprehensive about going into the school to begin with we soon discovered how transferable our business and interpersonal skills were and this gave us confidence and the students confidence in us.  We were soon comfortable with the pupils and all felt very proud of the progress they made. The programme has also had a positive impact on our work back at the office, helping to develop our coaching and leadership skills which will be really valuable to our business.”

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