CSR: Alice’s journey into the world of listening


Chantal’s focus on volunteering for CSR (corporate social responsibility) was to find a project or placement that would help or work with specific areas of her staff’s personalities. With Dianne it was about bringing her out of her shell, and her placement with the Newbury Volunteer Centre, going out into the town to recruit retailers to participate in a charity event, allowed her to explore skills she didn’t realised she had: persuasion, patience, perseverance, pertinence and the ability to think on her feet.

Chantal was adamant that I should concentrate on my listening skills. I suppose this arose from when I first started working at Appletree over a year ago I was brimming with ideas and I couldn’t wait my turn to present them.  Anyway listening is a good trait, not only to follow the discussion closely to make sure you don’t miss anything important, but to find the correct point in which you can safely interject without risking interruption or to allow the speaker to finish presenting their story. And listening is vital when researching what needs your customers have, so you can provide the correct solutions for them.

So a staff meeting decision decided the best place for me would be an Old People’s Home so I could listen to the stories of the residents there. The Day Centre in Compton seemed the best bet, so I made enquiries and arranged an appointment with Mrs Paul, the organiser of the Centre. After a nice chat Mrs Paul agreed I could do volunteering work listening to the old people’s stories about what life was like in Compton in years past, but I would need to be investigated by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB checked) as procedure before I could start.

So the next step was to drive down to Newbury (twice) to pick up the forms and then submit them later once they were filled in. A wait of several weeks resulted in a clear CRB record (as I expected, I’ve had three successful applications in the past when I worked in schools as a Clerk to the Governors, in which a lot of listening is required) and after Christmas I contacted Mrs Paul again to say I was in the clear and could start my CSR duties in January.

Unfortunately Mrs Paul had to announce that, due to Governmental cuts, the Day Centre would be closing in April and she and all her staff will be made redundant. I went down to see her anyway, and she agreed I could start my CSR placement there until the Centre closed. I still had a few weeks’ worth of listening to accomplish before the inevitable.

So, I had my first ‘session’ on Wednesday 19 January and I will tell you all about it in my next post.


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