Business people are responding to a call for volunteers and joining in the biggestever National Cares Action Day on Friday.

Cares, an initiative of Business in the Community, has organised the national day of action that will see more than 4,000 business volunteers in 17 towns and cities across the UK help hundreds of schools and community organisations in some of the country's most deprived areas.

Volunteers will tackle projects with environmental themes and raise awareness of climate change issues.

In Birmingham, volunteers from Masterlease, National Grid Metering and Eversheds will pitch a marquee on a traffic island to run a Kingstanding Environmental Challenge.

Inside, the volunteers will run interactive climate change activities for school-children and the Energy Saving Trust will put up displays and distribute free energy saving light bulbs. Volunteers will also work with young people to plant up hanging baskets which Age Concern will distribute to elderly people in the Kingstanding area. In addition, volunteers will work with Be Birmingham to promote the Birmingham Cutting CO2 website to residents and hand out free energy saving lamps.

One of the supporters, Gerry Sheedy, senior associate at Eversheds said it was important that businesses took time to support the annual initiative.

He said: "We have a team of keen volunteers who will be helping to brighten up the area around Conker Island, making hanging baskets and providing fun activities for school children to learn more about the local environment.

"We have a long-standing relationship with Business in the Community and are committed to getting involved in projects that make a difference to the local community and raise awareness of environmental issues. We also find that staff like to get their sleeves rolled up and get involved in initiatives of this kind where they can really see the results of their practical support."

Other volunteers from Grant Thornton, Harvey Ingram and Pinsent Masons will help clean up the under-used Plantsbrook Local Nature Reserve in Erdington. They will also construct fishing peg sites around the reserve's pools as park rangers are keen to start up a fishing club at the site.

More volunteers from HBOS will spend two days clearing a site in Selly Oak so a local school can run the innovative Forest Schools programme. This ground-breaking scheme takes the classroom outdoors so children can learn and participate in a range of environmental issues in the fresh air.

The action day follows on swiftly from HRH the Prince of Wales's Business Summit on Climate Change on 1 May, which saw the largest gathering of companies committed to taking positive action on climate change in 13 events around the country including the West Midlands.

The national Cares Action Day is an opportunity for companies to act on their commitments made on May Day by encouraging their employees to take action in their communities.

Isobel Hoseason, chair of the Community Impact Team for Business in the Community said: "The Cares Action Day will show the positive impact employee volunteering has on communities as people get stuck into environmental projects across the West Midlands and the UK.

"My own company National Grid will be taking an active part in the day."

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