Hundreds of employees who together form 'Cares', the Business in the Community flagship programme, are converging on Birmingham today to share ideas on community volunteering.

The National Cares Convention is being held at Millennium Point and is aimed at widening the impact of company charity projects.

The challenge, which will be unveiled today, is to get a minimum of 25 per cent of all employees in Caressupporting companies involved in volunteering.

Birmingham Cares, which is supported by The Birmingham Post, is one of 27 local employee volunteering partnerships under the Cares umbrella.

David Waller, Midlands chairman of Pricewaterhouse-Coopers and chairman of Birmingham Cares, said: "It is a privilege for our city to host this pioneering event, especially in the Year of the Volunteer and the heightened focus it brings.

"In Birmingham alone, companies working together through Cares have made a significant and long lasting impact on disadvantaged communities."

Mary Phipps, Headteacher of Foundry School, Winson Green, recently thanked Birmingham Cares companies for their comprehensive support which has had a major impact on the school.

Support has included repainting practically the entire school, the provision of a creative play area for their nursery children, innovative activity days for the children to participate in with other schools on the subjects of health and IT and donations of new books.

This year's National Cares Convention is called 'Who Cares Wins'.

Since its inception in 1998 Cares has brokered 80,000 employee volunteers to support social regeneration in UK communities.

David Darleston, regional director of Business in the Community, said: "Quite simply more employees equal more impact and increased benefit to all involved; therefore, one of the challenges today is to ask our company supporters to set themselves a target of a minimum of 25 per cent of their staff involved in employee volunteering."

Galaxy and Heart FM have been involved in Birmingham Cares to boost team building and lend a hand in the community.

Last year the company's finance department went to a day centre for autism sufferers in Smethwick to give their garden a makeover. They put in benches and plants and cleaned the area up.

Last autumn seven members of the sales team cleared out the front and back garden of a women's refuge in Birmingham.

"It was totally overgrown and the women and children were cooped up in the house all the time. Now they have somewhere to play and sit out and somewhere to hang the washing, " said a spokeswoman.

The company also took part in Fit for Fun, along with dozens of other organisations, hosting a day of activities for 400 schoolchildren in Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park.

The National Cares Convention has been sponsored by Cattles plc, HSBC Bank plc, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Zurich Commercial and support of Jaguar and Land Rover, Severn Trent and Eversheds.