College group joins nationwide campaign to support its local communities

Hundreds of hours spent helping good causes are now being added up by staff and students across the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

The college group has signed up to a national campaign encouraging people to support their local communities. The Good for Me Good for FE campaign aims to generate £1m of social value via a sustainable programme of community action including volunteering, fundraising and charitable partnerships.

No stranger to doing their bit for their communities, the Etc. colleges were happy to get on board.

“I believe everybody at some point in their life should do some form of volunteering,” said James Ruddock, Stockton Riverside College’s course leader for professional programmes.

Volunteering up to 90 hours a month as a special chief inspector with Cleveland Police and a driving force behind the launch of a new water safety charity, he said: “For me, it is enjoyable and a privilege to be in a position where you are able to help people.”

Now supported by its own small team of volunteers, Tees River Rescue aims to preserve and protect lives on the River Tees by deploying a river rescue craft and carrying out river safety patrols.

James, 35, of Middesbrough, said: “I get a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that we have made a difference and that can be quite grounding and humbling.”

Once again heading into her busiest time of year, NETA Training’s centre support manager Sian Cameron is also well known for putting the voluntary hours in, as Poppy Appeal organiser for Hartlepool.

For her, it means limitless hours spent manning the stands, delivering poppies across the borough and seeing her home in Wolviston full to bursting with red paper flowers.

Entering her 12th year at the helm, Sian’s efforts were recently recognised by Hartlepool Council, named Honorary Freewoman of the Borough.

“It’s good to be able to give back to the community,” she said. “Volunteering or doing something for others ultimately gives you a sense of pride, knowing what you have done is helping those around you.”

Counting up the time she dedicates to the Poppy Appeal alone each year, she said: “It works out about 900 hours.” Also giving many more hours to helping those in her local community, she added: “It is nice to be nice.”

Putting the spotlight on the amazing voluntary work carried out by their staff members like James and Sian, the Etc. colleges, made up of Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy, are among over 100 signed up to the Good for Me Good for FE campaign.

The initiative builds on the success of FE Foodbank Friday, an initiative that saw colleges around the country come together during the pandemic to raise over £47,000 and collect more than 20,000 items for local foodbanks.

“This is chance to highlight the fantastic work that individuals across our college group are already doing to support their local communities and to encourage others to think about ways they can help make a difference,” said the Etc.’s Group Marketing Director, Erika Marshall.

“While people like James and Sian go above and beyond, there are so many small ways we can all play our part and together make a really positive impact.”

The Good for Me Good for FE campaign is being spearheaded by London South East Colleges, East Coast College and Loughborough College.