Fish commits staff to charity work

A Preston company which specialises in insurance for disabled people is to pay its staff to be volunteers after its managing director enjoyed an “amazing experience” helping out national charity Vitalise.

[caption id="attachment_26294" align="f-align-medium-right f-align-center" width="300"]John Garrad John Garrad[/caption]

John Garrard, boss of Preston-based Fish Insurance, spent a day volunteering for the charity which provides respite care for people with physical disabilities.

With senior colleagues from the firm he served breakfast to guests at Vitalise’s Sandpipers holiday centre in Southport before heading out with them on a day trip to the Lake District.

“I was keen for myself and my management colleagues to get to the coalface, to see what the life of a volunteer is like and to meet and support the people who benefit from our products,” said John. “It was an amazing, highly enjoyable and enlightening experience. We were volunteers for a day but many people give up one or two weeks of their valuable time to provide care and companionship. They are society’s unsung heroes.”

He added: “I also met some lovely guests, not least one couple now in their 90s who had been married for some 75 years. The lady had lost use of her legs following a fall a few years ago and her husband is now her primary carer. They still live together at home with a little social care support and were enjoying their third or fourth Vitalise break. I guess without the charity’s support they would find it difficult if not impossible to take a holiday, something many of us take for granted.”

John found the experience so rewarding that he’s now offering to support Vitalise by enabling his staff to become volunteers on company time.

“There are so many good reasons to do this. I found my day to be not just really satisfying personally, but great fun and educational. I think my staff would find volunteering equally rewarding and help them further empathise with the experiences of the tens of thousands of people with disabilities that Fish protects.”

He plans to encourage staff to attend four or five volunteer days annually to help Vitalise deliver its specialist respite care holidays and short breaks. The charity’s corporate partnerships manager, Victoria Parker, said: “Our guests absolutely loved spending time with John and his team. For many the social interaction element of their Vitalise experience is crucial to their wellbeing. A huge thank you for the team for taking the time out to help.”