Skillshare is a project which brings charities together with the business sector, partnerships which benefit both sides. We registered an interest with Skillshare because we felt that there may be businesses from which we could learn and who may find it rewarding to be associated with Friends for Leisure.
We were delighted when Denis Hogg introduced us to David Kershaw, Sales Director of Senior Aerospace Bird Bellows (SABB), one of the major employers in Congleton, who had researched a number of local charities and chose to meet us.
SABB is a leading designer and manufacturer of precision engineered metallic bellows, flexible joints and duct assemblies for aircraft ducting systems and engine applications. As a design and manufacturing company, Senior has a wide range of skills and knowledge upon which we could draw.
At a very productive meeting with David and Denis, a number of areas were identified where Friends for Leisure could benefit from what is now an evolving relationship. To date, we have signed up six of Senior’s apprentices as volunteers to help with the summer programme of activities while they are not attending college. The young people all volunteered and have gone through the interview and induction process. For Friends for Leisure, it means that, whereas last year, we found it hard to find available volunteers to help with the summer activities, this year, there will be two Senior employees at almost every activity, to support the registered young people. In turn, the SABB volunteers will find that their confidence improves, their knowledge and understanding of disability will be broadened and, if they then decide to join the team of volunteers on a more permanent basis, they will be offered more training and development opportunities.
SABB offered to make available their Health and Safety and HR staff as and when they are needed by the charity. Friends for Leisure has already received policy advice on business continuity and has in place a plan to transfer its office work to the Senior premises, in the event of an emergency at their Congleton town centre office. We will also look at how an SABB statistician can help with management reporting systems, vital in these days of the voluntary sector needing to prove to stakeholders what difference they make to beneficiaries. With regard to our registered young people, an offer of a work placement has been made; factory tours and talks about how SABB products fit inside an aircraft will be available.
As we build on the developing relationship, Friends for Leisure believes that it is important that we don’t feel under any pressure to ask for help and, at the same time, we are very grateful for the support we are receiving. With particular areas covered so effectively, it leaves more time to plan and deliver the direct services to our young people. We also trust that Senior Aerospace Bird Bellows benefits from the partnership, having the opportunity to contribute to and feel a greater part of the local community