Alex Chisholm: we surely all know someone who deserves the Volunteering Award

Written by Alex Chisholm on 1 June 2018

With nominations open for the Civil Service Awards 2018, the Volunteering category champion and BEIS perm sec explains how volunteering helped him build imagination and empathy

Alex Chisholm. Credit: Photoshot

It’s no surprise that there are so many inspiring examples of civil servants involved in volunteering. Our day job is all about providing a quality service to the public, stakeholders and customers and, in a variety of ways, making the world a better place. We’re also encouraged to contribute beyond our ‘core’ business objectives at work by taking on corporate responsibilities such as involvement in diversity networks, health and wellbeing initiatives, outreach activities and fundraising. All of us are entitled to a minimum of three days’ special leave for volunteering each year.

As I wrote on the Civil Service Blog last year, there are great benefits to volunteering, both for individuals and for their communities. Not only is volunteering personally rewarding, it also provides an opportunity to develop a whole range of skills that are essential in the workplace, including communication, inclusiveness, adaptability, teamworking and leadership.

Volunteering can also be a good opportunity to meet a broader range of people than we might ordinarily interact with at work or in our home lives. This can surely only be a good thing when it comes to developing policy or delivering services that work in the real world. Certainly, I have found it very helpful to building my store of imagination and empathy.

Throughout the civil service, brilliant colleagues are contributing their time and effort in supporting local and national charities, running community groups and services, promoting conservation and the natural environment, serving in the reserves, acting as magistrates, and much, much more.

For these reasons, I’m delighted to be champion for the volunteering category in this year’s civil service awards. The Volunteering Award recognises individuals who:

“Volunteer outside of their civil service career and make an outstanding contribution to their local community, civil society or their country, be it through charity work, volunteering in local communities or as a reservist, through:

  • passion and enthusiasm for making a difference whilst maintaining a strong work ethic and high standards in their civil service career;
  • a substantial, demonstrable and positive impact that has occurred as a direct result of the individual’s engagement and commitment;
  • going above and beyond the call of duty, taking a hands-on, proactive approach to their involvement with their chosen cause.”

I’m sure we can all think of an individual within our workplace who meets this description, so why not submit a nomination, or encourage someone to apply? Applications are open until 25 July.

Nominate now for the Civil Service Awards

The Civil Service Awards Community is a new section on Civil Service World that aims to celebrate past winners, inspire people to nominate in 2018, and help us all to learn from good practice. If you’ve ever won or been shortlisted for an award, register your interest to hear about future events and projects for awards alumni

About the author

Alex Chisholm is permanent secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and category champion for the Volunteering Award