Skip to main content

Volunteering – recognising your contribution

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Armed forces reserves, Civil Service Reform

The Civil Service Reform Plan highlights the importance of civil servants being connected with their local communities and volunteering is a really great way to do so. Not only are you helping a worthy cause, but you benefit by learning new skills. I encourage you all to invest at least one day a year on community activity. Staff appraisals should take account of the valuable investment you are making.

Many of you are already doing some great work in this area.

The Fund

Last November, corporate fast streamers were set an objective called ‘The Fund’, which challenged teams to raise as much money and bank as much time as possible for a range of different charities. I have been very impressed with each team’s creativity and determination.

To give you a flavour of what they have been doing, in the last few months teams’ have ‘slept rough’ in Covent Garden, walked 33 miles along the Thames Path and cycled from the Welsh Government in Cardiff to Whitehall. I have seen some of this determination first hand when I attended a Charity Gala held at Admiralty House last month. This fantastic event was organised by a cross-government group of fast streamers and helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity – well done.

Corporate fast streamers at the charity gala at Admiralty House
Corporate fast streamers at the charity gala at Admiralty House

It is not only fast streamers who are volunteering and raising money for charity. I know many of you give up much of your free time to act as mentors, volunteer for charities, work on school governing bodies or are members of the Reserve Forces.

The Reserves

The civil service is one of the largest employers of Reservists. As civil servants we need to develop our capabilities and joining the reserve forces can give you the opportunity to develop your professional and personal skills. At the moment the reserve forces are touring a number of Government buildings. I highly recommend that you go along and find out a bit more about the work they do. The finale event of the Roadshow will take place on Friday 23 May.

Honours List

All this voluntary work does not go unrecognised. In the New Year’s Honours list, Anne Hoblyn from the Department for Work and Pensions was awarded an MBE for her voluntary work. She is currently undertaking a number of voluntary roles, including being a trustee for the Benevolent Fund in Surbiton and sitting on the School Admission Appeal Board in the London Boroughs of Merton and Sutton. I would like to congratulate Anne and the other civil servants awarded honours for their volunteer work.

In addition to the honours list, the Civil Service Awards, which launch later this month, will this year include a new volunteering award. Nominations will open on the 6th of June and I am sure there will be tough competition.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by expresso posted on


    I can't understand why the Civil Service Reform Plan highlights the importance of civil servants being connected with their local communities when the Civil Service has done it's best of late to remove its presence from the local communities (closing IRECs, closing offices) but hey, your blogging about it so it must be true.

    I've actually spent a lot of my free time over the last 20-years (and still do) volunteering to help organisations in my local community and have been pleased to do so, not wanting or seeking reward or thanks. However, the way the Civil Service is now going is that we need to pat ourselves on the back, and make poeple aware how great we are - so jumping on this self-appreciation bandwagon, shall I put this against my 5-days a year CPD?

    Nb, How are you getting on addesssing all the valid PMR concerns raised a couple of month ogo on a previous blog?

  2. Comment by Ian Mitchell posted on

    Volunteer complements professional.

    Experience in voluntary roles gives insights from different perspectives on transport, economy, heritage and how these form systems.

    My day job is Operational Research for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. A few days ago as Mayor of Amesbury, I placed the chain of office, the bling, on the shoulders of my successor.

    Besides celebrating the best of the community throughout this year with the bling I saw the changing realities on the ground for policies of economic regeneration, planning, transport and heritage. Amesbury, the oldest settlement in Britain, is the home of Stonehenge; the A303 runs through it, with business and strategic residential building changing the landscapes.

    The devil for implementation is always in the detail. The voluntary role of Mayor gave a unique perspective on this.

    The same was true in a very different Volunteer role near another Wiltshire Town, Imber, as a Company Commander, just for a day. At that time my day job was military Operational Research and I was using leave to complete the Territorial Army Combined Arms Tactics and Command course. Principles of war like Mutual Support became real when crouched behind a low ridge, feeling the vibration of the enemy tank moving just out of view as I ordered the operator of the anti-tank missile to engage it.

    Volunteer service enriches professional knowledge so it is good to see Civil Service support for Volunteers, civil and military.

  3. Comment by mocha posted on

    i agree with the comments made by 'expresso'. I volunteer for a very well known charity. However, management in my area would not take the view that this was actually a positive and should be included in the PMR system as 'the volunteer role you are doing was not from the civil service site', to this day I am still trying to fathom out this statement.
    Management are now concentrating on giving staff 'needs improvement', they must have one person in every ten on this marking. The reason they give, as they cannot complain about the work being done, is 'behaviours'. We can no longer - challenge, or question management without it being turned on us.
    I would say more and many people would reply to your blog if the situation we are in was without merit.

  4. Comment by Mark posted on

    Sir Bob, what voluntary work do you do?

  5. Comment by Andrew T posted on

    *** More comments please by anyone who volunteers***

    There are so many people who can contribute here - you only have to read the internal magazines (and even talk to people).

    I guess while we all secretly crave for people to come and congratulate us for things we do - the heart of volunteering is the selflessness and the quietly getting with it humbly and diligently.
    I wouldn't expect to be given any extra money maybe for any volunteering or even for it to feature on any performance report as such, but a nod to the time my employer has asked I take out of my day is sufficient for any performance discussions.

    Oh and if anything really thinks you can't question of "Challenge Senior Leaders" as they call it - you are mistaken - it is always possible.

    Carry on Volunteering everyone because You're All Awesome! and I liove you even if you don't think your manager does (and if you don't think they do I bet they are secretly jealous)

  6. Comment by Sue Northcott posted on

    I've also just finished a term as Mayor of my Town Council, and I've had many other voluntary roles in the past. In the next year I will continue to serve as a Town Councillor, a Parochial Church Councillor, a PCS union rep. and help out with my local food bank and youth club. I've learned so much in my roles outside of work. The organisational skills I've picked up are invaluable, and my confidence has been built so that I'm happy to chair or address all sorts of meetings.
    However, getting these skills recognised in the workplace is a struggle, and I've had a very negative response from our local HR when I asked if staff could use one of their 5 training days a year in controlled voluntary activities. I even had organisations lined up who would organise the days and provide evidence of the skills learnt.
    Never the less, I would still encourage everyone to help out in their communities. You get a lot more out of it than you put in!

  7. Comment by Gordon posted on

    I volunteer by donating platelets and have donated Blood and subsiquently platelets for years in fact I’ve just donated my 100th unit about a month ago.
    It is a feel good activity if ever there was one especially when you realise how many people can benefit from it, cancer patients, transfusion patients, people with severe bleeding to name but a few.
    If you feel like signing up to be a Blood or Platelet donor please look at the following websites for information.

  8. Comment by Nicholas posted on

    The is always much heralded support given to Reservists in the Armed Forces actually highlights another issue that of no support given by the Civil Service to those who for example, act as reservists to the Ambulance Service (see below) in times of emergency and are therefore effectively on-call 24/7.
    Supporting events across the country voluntarily so they can go ahead and which enables them to maintain their skills for when the call comes in time of emergency (bombs, floods and snow – all of these are recent emergencies that I know about just in my own rural county) as well as having to train on top of that. I am reliably informed just their training alone equates to effectively an additional 12 “working days” a year at least. These “reservists”, however, have to balance fulltime jobs and these commitments without currently having any support from the system.
    Do you believe it is now time for the Civil Service as a whole to look at the wider picture regarding volunteers for the Emergency Services? I certainly feel there is a case for some support for those who are reservists for the Emergency Services – enhanced leave allowance maybe.