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The First Ark Group launches major new volunteering initiative

The First Ark Group has launched a major new pledge that will commit 500 working days each year to good causes.

The innovative 500 Days of Volunteering initiative by the Group in Merseyside, one of the largest organisations in the North West providing housing and maintenance services, will see thousands of hours each year be given over to work in local communities.

The Group, which consists of Knowsley Housing Trust, KHT Services and repairs and maintenance company Vivark, has a social responsibility focus built into the organisation but this new initiative takes that commitment a step further.

Executive Director of Customers and Communities at First Ark, Sheila Tolley said: "We are allocating 500 days of work a year to allow staff to take their skills into the community and make a difference.

"This is a major step for us in driving forward change and opportunities in the communities we serve. Volunteering is good for our staff, good for our communities, and good for our business."

The initiative has a number of strands that will allow staff from across the Group to donate their skills and time to local groups and organisations that need extra support.

  • Groups and charities will be able to register with First Ark for volunteers, or staff can suggest places they would like to volunteer and First Ark will arrange it for them
  • A Skills Bank of available expertise has been set up where staff, from trade operatives to admin and office staff, will be able to 'bank' their time for volunteering
  • First Ark is working with Liverpool Compact Education Business Partnership in a Careers Carousel event - a type of 'careers speed dating' that will give school children a quick-fire taste of different careers. Group staff will be encouraged to take part and share their advice and experiences
  • Staff are also being encouraged to volunteer in The Duke of Edinburgh's Scheme, which the Group has become a provider of - the first housing organisation in the North West to do so
  • The Group has teamed up with Liverpool-based Innovate Volunteering, encouraging staff to get involved in its activities such as becoming volunteer mentors supporting vulnerable members of the community or to join its advisory board.

It is hoped many more opportunities and partnerships will be developed as the initiative progresses.

Sheila added: "We have taken this important step because we want to be a powerful force for good, improving lives and creating sustainable communities.

"We have a highly skilled workforce that can play a big part in this; taking their expertise out to groups that need it and helping them develop their activities and services for the people of Knowsley."

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