ONE of last year's winners was so impressed by The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards that it has become a sponsor for 2008. Anglian Water took the Sustainable Development accolade for 2007 for its "Give me Five" volunteering-as-part-of-staff-development scheme, in which the company matches the time employees devote to voluntary activities up to 30 hours a year. This year it is sponsoring the Employee of the Year Award. AW's media manager Collette Nicholls explained: "The scheme enables the company to make a sustained contribution to the community by investing the time, skills and expertise of its employees in community projects. It was designed and is managed to provide varied and challenging community activities for Anglian Water employees. The scheme demonstrates Anglian Water's value of its employees by recognising their contribution to the community. It is an opportunity to enhance employees' work skills linking it to the company's performance management process including its skills and behaviours framework, Give Me Five also contributing to enhancing the environment." Ms Nicholls said the company's community policy was geared towards support in promoting the well-being of communities by behaving in a socially responsible manner, using Give Me Five as its tool. "This includes educating young people and the communities in which they live - Anglian Water has three education centres and a mobile education centre - recognising our responsibility to the communities in which the company operates, and managing the sustainability of the local environment while ensuring value for money to customers," she said. "The Give Me Five scheme allows employees to take up to 30 hours of work time per year to engage in community activities and matched with 30 hours of their own time. "The link between volunteering and employees' personal development is a key element and monitoring data indicates this is being achieved." The scheme is managed by Anglian Water's community investment manager, supported by a group of 25 champions, representative of the business to ensure there is a local voice. They promote the scheme within the company and are responsible for identifying new volunteering opportunities. The business benefits to Anglian Water have included increased morale and motivation of employees, with Give Me Five being a development tool in the company's performance management programme, and enhancing its reputation as a socially responsible organisation. Benefits to society include participation and support of community events and projects through a wide range of activities with an implicit link to Anglian Water's education team and Give Me Five's Adopt a School project. "This has given communities the benefit of a wide range of educational materials and access to the skills and expertise of Anglian Water's employees at no cost to them." The scheme's title was a combination of the gesture of solidarity and the giving of time, Ms Nicholls explained.