From giving time to talk about life on one of the world’s greatest engineering challenges to serving aboard Royal Navy submarines, staff at BAE Systems in Barrow volunteer thousands of hours of their time annually.
As we mark Volunteers’ Week almost 3,000 hours of help have been recorded with staff on target to smash last year’s total. In 2018 over 4,000 hours were recorded on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) projects alone.
Much of the work is led by BAE Systems’ social responsibility senior advisor Neil Doherty who says the variety of opportunities has made a big difference to a wide number of groups in Furness and across Cumbria.
“The number of people willing to give up their own time to help others is really heartening,” Neil said. “We’ve a thriving network of STEM ambassadors who go out and about to support schools in Furness and beyond in spreading the word about science.”
A recent event at Barrow Island School saw children make use of Lego to work on a variety of fun experiments and students at North Walney School will experience a similar project later this month.
The annual Top of the Form inter-school challenge sees sixth formers from several schools compete for prizes as part of an event run by BAE Systems apprentices.
Project management higher apprentice Ross Brooks was among the organising group who volunteered to run the event: “We loved the chance to get involved and the way the project developed was great to see. While Top of the Form takes many hours to arrange and run, it brings us into contact with dozens of sixth formers.”
Ross added: “It’s a great way for recent recruits like us – I was in their shoes 18 months ago – to get involved in a project which may well help show what life is like at BAE Systems and to have fun.”
In the coming weeks employees will be carrying out more STEM work in schools, taking part in Barrow Carnival and supporting an Armed Forces Day in Kendal. With Volunteers’ Week aimed at highlighting collaborative ways of offering help, the hope is more staff will take an interest in getting involved.
Neil said: “We’ve a wide range of skills and ability here and I’m well aware there’s a demand for help from all walks of life. If we can connect with organisations that need our help we can marry up the opportunities that are on offer.”