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New project connects furloughed staff with volunteering roles

Furlonteer is connecting thousands of furloughed staff members with more than 50 charities and good causes during the coronavirus crisis


A new non-profit project named Furlonteer is giving furloughed staff members in all UK industries the chance to put their leave to good use. Once signed up, these “furlonteers” are matched with roles at charities based on their skills, experience and the amount of time they have available.


According to Furtlonteer seven in ten UK firms have asked staff members to go on temporary leave since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Now, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which businesses are using to pay their furloughed staff’s wages during the pandemic, has been extended to the end of October, giving workers even more of an opportunity to make their time off count.


In the travel industry, where furlough has been more widespread than most, there are many employees who have decided to use their time to volunteer.


Adam Barton is one such person. A marketing executive for Great Rail Journeys, he signed up with Furlonteer and is now volunteering for the Commonwealth Education Trust until he can return to his job in travel.

“I think if you have a chance to give something back you should,” says Adam, who jumped at the chance to volunteer for the Commonwealth Education Trust when he was put on furlough from his role at Great Rail Journeys at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.


The London-based charity strives towards providing a low-cost and long-term, sustainable model to bring training and skill development opportunities to teachers in hard-to-reach areas of the world. Its main initiative, Teach2030, aims to reach 125,000 teachers in the next three years with bite-size online training courses and impact the lives of 5 million children.


“The trust is small in terms of resources available, so being someone who can provide dedicated marketing expertise is really valuable to them,” explains Adam. During the time he’s spent volunteering with the trust, Adam has developed and put it into action a marketing strategy designed to help the charity reach its 2020 goals.


The strategy’s main focus is on raising funds through the charity’s Founders Club programme, designed to build partnerships with both businesses and individuals.


“I’m using similar skills to those I’d use in my day-to-day job but at Great Rail Journeys I’m part of a fairly large marketing team where everyone has their roles and responsibilities, whereas what I’m doing now allows me to take a look at the bigger picture of an organisation, which is fun,” says Adam.


“[Volunteering for the Commonwealth Education Trust] has given me the chance to expose my skills to another industry and new people, and working without the time pressures of my normal job has given me the opportunity to reflect and improve on how I use certain skills and carry out certain tasks, which will definitely be beneficial to me when I return to work,” he adds.


Adam is currently dedicating an hour or two to the trust every day and enjoying it, but is looking forward to returning to his full-time job in the travel industry.


“Right now I’m grateful to have a job and look forward to going back to it, once some kind of normality returns,” Adam says.


Anyone interested in using their furlough to volunteer can get in touch with Furlonteer. As well at the Commonwealth Education Trust, the middleman is also working with charities including Hospices of Hope, WellWater, Ruff and Ruby, Pop to the Shop, KidsOut, Let’s Go Forward, Felloh and One-Eighty.

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