Entraide: a volunteering partnership between Lloyds Banking Group and the College of Social Sciences
The College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham and Lloyds Banking Group have been working together over the past year on a special volunteering project with Entraide.
This project, one of several responsible business initiatives the University of Birmingham and Lloyds Banking Group have partnered on, involved employees from each organisation becoming volunteer befrienders with refugee support charity, Entraide. Entraide works alongside asylum seekers, refugees, migrant workers, and their dependants in the UK to facilitate their integration into society. Founded and directed by Felix Kupay, alumnus of University of Birmingham with an MA in Social Policy and an MSc in International Development, Entraide was established as a response to the growing need for support for newcomers to the UK to help them to gain the knowledge and access the support and advice they need.
In this partnership, University of Birmingham and Lloyds Banking Group have shown their commitment to their civic missions. Both institutions have responsibility at their heart, supporting society and environment. Their fruitful partnership of over 100 years has formed the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, and each organisation has participated in shared voluntary schemes, such as Mayor’s Mentors, providing learning and skills for both the volunteers and those they have supported, as well as wellbeing benefits, through giving support and time to others for volunteer employees of both organisations.
In 2020, more than ever, charities needed the support of the public and businesses to enable them to carry on doing the crucial work they do. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown has meant a great deal of change for Entraide, as their usual in-person support and services had to be put on hold to be replaced with digital or telephone support. One of these services is Entraide’s befriending service, which matches volunteers with those new to the country for support, advice and conversation.
Five employees from Lloyds Banking Group and five from the College of Social Sciences volunteered for Entraide’s befriending scheme in 2020 and spoke to Entraide’s service users via telephone over a period of three months. Helping others, particularly in times of personal low mental health, has been proven to broaden mental horizons, increase feelings of gratitude and maintain or improve an empathetic nature. Accordingly, volunteers reported an increased sense of wellbeing and better empathy and listening skills.
Service users reported that conversations with their befriender made them feel as if they had a friend in the UK, that they had thoughtful and empathetic conversations and were helped by the volunteers, either with practical advice or by lending an empathetic ear.
Organisers from the College of Social Sciences and Lloyds Banking Group were able to deliver a voluntary programme which fitted the shared responsible business values of both organisations and allowed employees to support their communities, even during a global pandemic.
Entraide are committed to continue to provide their exemplary service to those new to the country throughout lockdown and beyond, and are adapting their processes as necessary. Some of the volunteers from the College of Social Sciences and Lloyds Banking Group are continuing in their befriending roles, and Entraide are hoping to transition back to face to face services in the near future.
If you would like to support Entraide through a monetary donation or by volunteering, have a look at their website for details on how you can help.
If you would like to hear more about the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, why not sign up to our conference? We will be hosting four panels over the day, any of which you can join from the comfort of your own desk.