0 Trust staff get Leap Day off work to volunteer PR

More than 5,000 employees at the National Trust are being given the Leap Day (29 February) off work to volunteer for a day in their local communities.

The 'Local Leap' will celebrate the importance of volunteering as the Trust, which itself enjoys the support of more than 62,000 volunteers, continues to build links with its local communities.

It follows a similar initiative four years ago when the charity's employees were given a day off work to make green improvements at home - sparking national debate about who 'owns' the extra day in the year.

The Local Leap also marks the centenary year of the death of one of the charity's founders, Octavia Hill, who was passionate about the role that volunteering could play within society.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust who will be volunteering with her local Riding for the Disabled stables, explained: "The Trust knows first-hand how important volunteering is. We simply couldn't function without our 62,000 volunteers.

"The sheer spread of the places we look after means that we have close links with communities the length and breadth of the country.

"Through Local Leap we want to get to know our local communities even better, and build new relationships into the future.

"As anyone who volunteers knows, it is a hugely rewarding experience, and I hope Local Leap will encourage others to volunteer anywhere in the country."

Local Leap volunteering activities will cover a huge range: litter picking in town centres, tree planting and scrub clearance, decorating hospices and schools, helping charities complete grant applications, developing local campaigns to save a derelict building, to name just a few.

Founder of "The Big Issue", John Bird, welcomed the Trust's Local Leap initiative: "Local Leap day seems like a finely engineered piece of usefulness, the kind that Octavia Hill would have greatly approved of. And a leap not into the dark but into the community, the mainstay, the expression of all of our lives.

"For the Trust to do that I think they are celebrating their development in the most positive way imaginable: and that is by getting useful beyond one's normal place of work.

"It is a lesson to us all and I think that the Trust should be marketing this and saying to people like The Big Issue "when's your next leap?" I welcome this as a many-decades long member and supporter of the Trust and someone who relishes all that you do for me, my family, my community and my society. Which, as you know, is also yours."

Lucy de Groot, Chief Executive of CSV, added: "Leap Day is the perfect time to make a difference in our communities and give our own lives greater purpose. There's no better way to do this than by volunteering, and in these uncertain times the need is greater than ever. Helping out with a local environmental project, taking time to visit an isolated older person, or sharing your skills with a young person in search of inspiration can be a great way to learn new skills and build new friendships, as well as building a society in which we all feel safer and more valued.

"The National Trust's Local Leap Day builds on a proud history of volunteering. It also could be the start of many long lasting relationships for first time volunteers."

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