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The Friday Blog

Foodbanks: Supporting Our Community 

Friday, August 15, 2014 8:20:45 AM

The @Worle Volunteers with the Trussell Trust teamAs part of my role as a Project Leader at Brandon Trust, I regularly work with a group of students with learning disabilities from @Worle, in Weston-super-Mare.

The students volunteer for a few hours each week with the Trussell Trust, who run a local foodbank in Weston. The Trussell Trust collect donations of food to give out as emergency supplies to help local people in crisis.

It’s a fantastic thing that we’re doing and the students are all benefiting enormously from gaining an awareness of other people’s needs whilst developing an understanding of working with others. The group love the inclusive environment they work in and they tell me that they enjoy helping others; for some this is a whole new experience.

The recent financial downturn has impacted greatly for many, resulting in a sharp rise in foodbanks within our community. In fact, over 13 million people across the UK now live below the poverty line. Rising food and fuel prices, static incomes, underemployment and changes to benefits are some of the reasons why increasing numbers are being referred to foodbanks for emergency food. During 2013-14, foodbanks fed 913,138 people nationwide. Of those helped, 330,205 were children. These are alarming statistics. (statistics provided by the Trussell Trust)

Ian, one of the students I support said: “I check the dates to make sure the food is okay and I also divide the sugar up into bags. I think it’s a really nice place to do voluntary work because it’s such a good atmosphere down there; we are such a good team. It’s awesome helping other people.”

You can find out more about the Trussell Trust in Weston by visiting www.wsmfoodbank.org.uk.

Michele Ryan
Project Leader

A Rewarding Experience 

Friday, August 08, 2014 8:36:13 AM

Stephen enjoying his freshly decorated roomI work in the payroll department, based at our head office in Bristol. My team recently volunteered to paint the room of someone we support, which gave us the chance to get out of the office and into the services to see what goes on day-to-day. For me, it was a chance to see what Brandon Trust is all about. I’ve only been working here a few months and this was my first visit to any of our support services.

I will admit, I didn’t know what to expect. What I will say though on the back of the experience, is how much I enjoyed it. From the moment I walked in, I felt welcome. The support staff were friendly and accommodating and Stephen was very excited that we were going to paint his room; he’d already chosen the colour. He showed us around his home and was very chatty.

It is definitely something I'm glad to have had the opportunity to do. It really brings home what our charity does and how we support people and set them free to live their lives as they choose, and with fewer limitations. I hope this is something I'll get the chance to do again sometime.

Neil Gardiner
Payroll Manager

On Your Bike 

Friday, August 01, 2014 8:51:53 AM

Lawyers from Osborne Clarke donating bikes to Brandon's bike projectThe idea of lawyers building bikes might seem a bit odd at first, but at Osborne Clarke we’re always looking for interesting team-building activities and also for ways to help the communities we work in. So, when we came across a company called Charity Bike Build, we liked the sound of it.

That initial idea led to three of our legal teams - Business Transactions, Real Estate and Litigation - stepping away from contracts, caveats and cases to spend a day getting to grips with the nuts and bolts (literally) of bikes.

As you’d expect, the day involved slightly more than just putting a bike together. First the lawyers split into teams to plan their build, learning new project management skills along the way. They then learnt the bike-building skills they’d need. Then came a tough challenge – negotiating with other teams for missing parts and earning tools through various activities. Finally, the bikes were checked by a professional to make sure they were roadworthy.

As you can see, we got a lot out of building the bikes. Even better, they will continue to create value as part of Brandon Trust’s Bike Project at Elm Tree Farm. We hope the bikes have many years of happy use ahead of them!

Nick Wright
CSR Co-ordinator, Osborne Clarke

Work Experience at Brandon Trust 

Friday, July 25, 2014 8:14:27 AM

photo of Brandon's fundraising team and work experience students

I recently completed a week's work experience with Brandon Trust. Not only has it given me something to put on my CV, more importantly it has given me an insight into working in an office environment, and how a charity is run.

Throughout the week I learnt how the fundraising team get the word out about their exciting events and dedicate themselves to finding participants. I feel inspired by my time with them, and by their determination and resilience when persuading local companies to take part in or sponsor these events. It is clear to me that they are passionate about fundraising for all of the charity's good causes.

The staff at Brandon Trust are a friendly, understanding bunch of people and I felt instantly reassured whenever I spoke to members of the team. They have massively influenced my decision to undertake future volunteering. I really enjoyed my work experience and feel like I have contributed in some small way to helping out and making a difference.

Looking back on my week, I would highly recommend others take part in work experience here, regardless of whether they know where they want to work in the future. It has given me the opportunity to make decisions about what I want to do as a career after university. I have also learnt to appreciate the amount of continual hard work a nine-to-five job entails!

Freya Restall
Work Experience Student

Our Garden Makeover 

Friday, July 18, 2014 7:45:57 AM

photo of  Burges Salmon volunteers and Brandon Trust staff in the garden they gave a makeoverThe garden at Hampstead Road in Bristol, where I work, was starting to look very tired and dated and was not a great place for the people we support who live there, to use. After a bit of a discussion we decided a garden revamp was in order. We approached the Fundraising team at Brandon to ask if there was any way they could help support our project.

Fundraising managed to find 20 volunteers from local solicitor firm Burges Salmon, who came to the house ready to work! As they pulled down sheds, chopped back bushes, ripped out overgrown weeds, built raised planters, and sorted through loads of rubbish, we could see the transformation start to take place. After two days, things were looking much better but their time with us had sadly come to an end.

Our staff worked incredibly hard and carried on where our friends from Burges Salmon had left off. Many gave up their own time to clean the patio, paint fences, and build furniture. The people we support chose plants, flowers, shrubs, ornaments and sensory items to get the new-look garden ready for resident Josie's birthday barbecue party, which was also the date we had set for the grand unveiling.

On the morning of the 7th July, the staff team were buzzing with excitement, looking forward to showing off the garden to other members of the Trust and to the families of the individuals supported.

Massive thanks to the crew from Burges Salmon and everyone else that helped out and came to the party. We feel very proud of what has been achieved. The people who live at Hampstead Road are looking forward to continued good weather and spending time in their newly improved garden.

Carly Sutton
Team Leader

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