Reflections on social purpose: A colleague perspective
Helping is at the heart of our organisation – four colleagues paint a picture of our volunteering efforts in 2019.
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Each member of staff at Coutts is given 3 days a year to do volunteering of their choice – it’s all part of the Bank’s wider ethos to be a positive force for good in society, building on the legacies and ethos of our founders.
We asked some of our volunteers what motivates them to help, both in and out of their work time. Here’s what they told us…
Karly Briggs, Protection team
Q: Where have you volunteered this year?
A: I’ve spent a lot of time at The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, which is next door to our London HQ. They provide vital services to the homeless and are always in need of an extra pair of hands.
Q: What type of things do you do there?
A: Well, I help coordinate a Coutts staff rota throughout the year for the daily lunch service, where they need ‘all hands-on-deck’ to plate up the food. As you’d expect, meal times are busy and quite demanding, but it’s a really good way of providing practical support. There are also other mini projects throughout the year, including a winter coat collection appeal.
Q: And why you do think it’s important to volunteer?
A: On a personal level, it gives me great pride and a sense of accomplishment. It also provides much-needed support for vulnerable people, and helps to break down social barriers, especially in our part of town.
Alison Langton, Head of Banking Proposition
Q: Tell us about your volunteering this year…
A: I’ve gone back to school in 2019, thanks to our brilliant new 3-year partnership with St Saviour’s and St Olave’s School.
Q: Sounds interesting, what does that involve?
A: A lot of colleagues have snapped up the chance to do some pupil mentoring. We all really like the idea of giving something back, and hopefully inspiring a younger generation to dream big. And in parallel with that, we’ve been helping with tutoring, exam reading, mock interviewing, and so on.
Q: Is it as busy as it sounds?
A: Yes, but that’s a good thing! We don’t always go to the school, sometimes the pupils come to us. One of our senior leaders also now sits on the School Governing Board of Trustees, and we’ve got loads in the pipeline for 2020 including MoneySense workshops and even a summer sports day.
Mercan Dag, Lending Advice & Suitability team
Q: Where have you volunteered recently?
A: Like Karly, I’ve also been helping the homeless but through something called ‘The Big Sleep Out’. It’s part of a global campaign, with the London event taking place in Trafalgar Square. Essentially, a group of colleagues and I spent the night sleeping outside, and we raised over £10,000 on behalf of Coutts!
Q: Sounds cold! How was it?
A: Given it was in December, it was very cold indeed! It’s probably fair to say that that each volunteer got a short, sharp shock of appreciation. It’s very easy to forget how lucky we are with our home comforts, and the little luxuries in life that many people don’t have.
Q: And what made you want to volunteer?
A: Volunteering gives us the opportunity to show our support and recognise there are many vulnerable people around the world. And at Coutts, we often use the phrase ‘more than a bank’, because there’s so much more that we each do to help our communities.
Sarah Muir, Financial Planning Centre
Q: How important is volunteering to you?
A: Very! It gives me a ‘reality check’ which is really healthy. It’s also important for my own mental wellbeing, and there’s a lot of truth in the old adage about it being ‘better to give than receive’.
Q: Tell us more about the Beauty Banks campaign…
A: I’m based in our Bristol office and I teamed up with Lisa Gibson in our London HQ, to run a two-week campaign that collected everyday toiletries for people in need. We asked colleagues to donate small but essential items like shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste etc. All the stuff we probably take for granted each day.
Q: What attracted you to that campaign in particular?
A: It’s not just about volunteering-for-volunteering’s-sake, it’s about getting involved in something I’m genuinely passionate about. That’s why ‘Beauty Banks’ is so important to me - all the donations can make a real difference to the lives of people in my local community.
Q: How has Coutts supported you?
A: What’s great about being actively encouraged to volunteer, as Coutts does with all employees, is that it’s made me try things that I would never previously have thought of doing, whether it’s helping at my local animal rescue centre, or coordinating the collection of toiletries.
Onwards and upwards
After a bumper year for volunteering across the Bank in 2019, we’re already looking ahead to our plans in 2020.
This article was written in parallel with part one of a social purpose series, and you can read a client perspective on philanthropy by clicking here.