From welly boots to waders, 3Keelers get stuck in to volunteering

Whether on land or at sea, 3Keelers can be found getting involved in all sorts of community activities. In fact, they are actively encouraged to book up to 22.5 hours of their working time each year on volunteering projects.

While down in Devon for 3Keel’s annual strategy residential, two of our team spent a day carrying out an intertidal survey with the Wildlife Trusts, under a citizen science survey called Shoresearch. They spent the day surveying transects with quadrants, recording the wildlife found living on the shoreline, including sea anemones, brittle stars, and lots of different types of gastropods (AKA snails).

Emma Eatough, Consultant, said of the day: ”Citizen science projects such as Shoresearch are not only great for engaging people with British wildlife, but also collect ecological data such as species distribution, which over time can build into really important databases for scientific research. It was great to use our volunteering time to contribute to this work, and also to spend time learning about the creatures that live around our coastline!”

In September, Fin Kenneth, Senior Consultant, and November, Ibrahim Yusuf, Apprentice, devoted some of their volunteer time to the London organisation, The Felix Project, which collects fresh, nutritious food that cannot be sold and delivers it to charities and schools so they can provide healthy meals and help the most vulnerable in our society.

Fin headed out to the Kent countryside to help with an apple harvest. In previous years, surplus crops from this orchard had been sold at a loss because of rising costs coupled with unbudging prices offered by supermarkets. In 2023, the orchard’s owners decided to donate the fruit instead, which The Felix Project was able to distribute to schools. Fin helped with the picking and filled a delivery truck lent by Amazon.
He says: “These were really delicious apples, so it’s great to think that children in London benefitted from the day of volunteering that 3Keel gave me. Spending most of my working time in front of a computer, it was fantastic to do something ‘on the land’ for a change.”

Another of our 3Keel team, Ibrahim Yusuf, has also been busy with The Felix Project. For a day in November, Ibrahim volunteered at one of their warehouses in South London where he sorted and arranged through the surplus food depending on the chosen charity’s request and ensured that the food was still within the expiry date and thus safe to consume. He then assisted in loading the boxes onto delivery vans. The project relies on volunteers to distribute the significant contributions it receives from food companies in the capital.

Ibrahim said of his day: “Each year, the charity manages to keep 12,149 tonnes of good food out of landfill and instead give it to people who can’t afford a full basket of groceries each week. It felt good to take time out of my working week to contribute to the effort. I’d recommend anyone who cares about food waste and hunger to support The Felix Project. They are a friendly bunch who are passionate about tackling both food insecurity and food waste in London.”

For the past eight years, volunteers from 3Keel have been supporting FarmAbility, an Oxfordshire farm-based programme for adults with learning disabilities and autism. The charity works in partnership with farms and growing spaces to enable people to benefit from regular, active engagement in productive, outdoor activities. Engaging with land and animals brings significant benefit to the physical health and well-being of FarmAbility’s co-farmers.

When FarmAbility needs volunteers to get seasonal jobs done, 3Keelers have been keen to step up and get stuck in. This year, 14 volunteers across two days visited Willowbrook Farm, carrying out essential work to get the co-farmers’ barn ready for the cold season.

Earlier in the year, the barn had been a bare structure with no sides or windows. These were donated and fitted by a local company and FarmAbility then raised money for a wood burner and a rechargeable battery capable of powering a couple of lights in this off-grid shelter. Hard work followed, to dig out compostable toilets and by Easter, they were able to ‘move in’. Over the summer, between 20-25 co-farmers each week have been active on the farm but with winter approaching, insulation was a must. That’s where power tool-wielding 3Keelers stepped in to frame, insulate and clad the ‘club house’ to make it cosy for co-farmers.

Jenny Creese, from FarmAbility, was enthusiastic when asked about the volunteers’ contribution, saying: “As always, hosting 3Keel for volunteering days was a fantastic experience – it was wonderful to have so much energy and enthusiasm all focused on improving our facilities for co-farmers.

“Over the two days that 3Keel volunteers were with us they achieved and enormous amount – installing insulation in the walls of our entire barn, which was no mean feat! As well as putting the wooden cladding over 50% of the insulation. This was a job that required patience and lots of fiddly measuring and cutting. While our co-farmers can put their energy to most tasks and achieve anything, it would have taken us months to get done what your team managed in such a short space of time.

“Going into winter, our top priority was to provide our co-farmers with a warm, safe space to meet and relax – therefore this job was vital. Thank you to everyone who came on the days and provided their people power, and also the whole of 3keel for your ongoing fundraising support. It has made a huge difference already and puts us on track for a warm future.”

Caroline Hall, Head of People at 3Keel, explains that volunteering “is built into 3Keel’s culture, with each colleague entitled to take some paid time out of work to support charities or to get involved in other voluntary initiatives. Many colleagues enjoy taking on a special, time-sensitive, project, while others spread their time over the year, perhaps taking on the role of trustee for a charity.

“It’s very much about finding something that speaks to an individual’s personal values or passions .”

As well as giving time, 3Keel has focused some of its corporate social responsibility budget this year on a charity very local to the company’s Oxford office. The Story Museum is round the corner and is “the most unusual museum in Oxford.” Through immersive exhibitions, gallery spaces & events, aimed at children and families, it celebrates story in all forms encouraging creativity, enhancing well-being and fostering improved literacy and communications skills. 3Keel is supporting the museum with sponsorship of special exhibition, Brilli-ANT! How someone small changed a big story, as part of a five-year commitment of support.

Brilli-ANT is an immersive exhibition that uses the power of storytelling to give children practical ways to tackle climate change in an engaging and thought-provoking way, without making them feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. From a dung beetle explaining recycling, to a bumblebee showing the importance of helping others, ‘giant insects’ – voiced by actors and activists including Derek Jacobi, Julian Clary, Noga Levy Rapoport and Isy Suttie – tell stories about how species adapt to climate change.

Between April-September 2023, more than 22,000 people have visited the exhibition including over 2,000 pupils visiting with their school and 900 people attending special events linked to the exhibition.

3Keel Group Ltd – Sustainability advisors. Company registered in England and Wales Number 14370375 © Copyright - 3Keel