A treasured drop-in centre for carers in Leeds has been given a fresh new look for 2011 by big-hearted business people.
Like many organisations, Carers Leeds is being hit by spending cuts and could not afford to redecorate its Headrow centre.
So staff from Merkel Insurance, in the city's Whitehall Road, came to the rescue by giving up their spare time to help out instead.
Groups of up to eight at a time have spent several Saturdays and Mondays revamping the centre's waiting room and interview room public areas and are also buying comfy new chairs.
"The work they have done would have cost us 5,000 or more which we simply could not afford," said grateful manager Val Hewison.
"I cannot tell you what a boost it has given to our morale.
"It is important that the ambience of our premises is welcoming and comfortable for the many family carers who use us.
"But our rooms were starting to look dismal and tired and in these austere times we could not justify the cost of refurbishment out of our funds.
"Our staff can put up with torn carpets and that sort of thing, but we needed to improve the waiting room and interview room for our visitors."
So the waiting room, which receives sunlight, has been painted in a cool blue hue; and the interview room, which lacks sunlight, has been given a warm buttermilk glow.
"The clean updated look really does show our carers how much we value them," said Val.
Markel Insurance has also brought in contractors who have installed new lights, ceiling tiles and carpets to complete the much-needed refurbishment.
"There are no words to thank them for all they have done – and all in a quiet and unassuming fashion," added Val. I think this is a great example of the Big Society agenda with private and voluntary sector
Carers Leeds offers information, advice and support to the 70,000 unpaid carers of Leeds – people who look after sick, disabled and frail friends and relatives who could not manage without their help. Some of them are isolated and, as an extra festive surprise, Markel Insurance staff personally delivered presents to them on Christmas Eve.
Careers Leeds is funded principally by the city council and employs outreach workers and organises social events and carers' groups.