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Fighting poverty and social exclusion - one event at a time

Category: volunteering, CSR, Volunteering placement, Corporate Responsibility, Volunteering Day, volunteering week, Corporate Social Responsibility, Wellcome, volunteer, volunteers


In January, I announced the 4 pillars of the new volunteering strategy that are closely aligned with important strategic priorities already being delivered by teams across the organisation. The focus on these areas is designed to help foster a sense of social responsibility that I like to think underpins volunteering at Wellcome:

  • Education and Learning
  • Diversity and Inclusion (including social mobility)
  • Health & Wellbeing (with a particular focus on mental health)
  • Planetary Health (with more volunteering opportunities related to climate action).

On Friday 6 March, Wellcome took part in the Big Issue Foundation's Big London Night walk as a refreshment stop for between 250 - 270 walkers taking to the streets of London and embarking on a 15 mile journey. All to raise money for the The Big Issue, which is a charity that exists to dismantle poverty by creating employment and opportunities for people who have found themselves living on the streets, in isolation and excluded from areas of society.

This event adds to the social mobility agenda that myself and other colleagues are hoping to progress at Wellcome. Sam Lloyd continued the social mobility conversation at a lively and well-attended workshop today. More on the agreed outcomes from that on Trustnet soon. 

But back to the matter at hand, for me one of the best things about Wellcome are the Principles that we all agree to adhere to when we join, with the hope that they are factored into everything we do at work.

We pulled together

Our shift started at 10.30pm - keep scrolling to find out if these cheesy grins lasted until 2.00am!

Staff from Talent & Development - Volunteering, Business Services, Facilities and Workplace and our service partners all worked together to set up Wellcome as one of four refreshment stops along the 15 mile route.

We had a health and safety briefing, wore volunteer t-shirts and walkers wore red hi-vis vests. Assigned volunteer roles: we welcomed, conversed, sign-posted to refreshments, toilets, cleaned, recycled and supplied extra hand sanitiser!

We acted boldy

amazing, dedicated and friendly Facilities and Workplace and Service Partner Teams making sure the event was safe and secure and ran smoothly.

Amid the COVID-19 discussions we had to contemplate the possibility of not participating in the event especially as teams have been preparing for the eventuality of closing the office and everyone working from home. After risk assessments, contingency planning, careful consideration, a little stress and last minute panic we decided to go ahead and participate in the event (which was agreed and planned last year).

We stretched ourselves

Walkers fed, watered and sent on their way by 1.30am which is way past our bedtimes - we are still smiling though. Who knew a late night at work could be so much fun!

Managing an event for close to 300 people is not easy - especially in the midst of a global epidemic! But we checked - and checked again and made sure the event was run as safely as possible. Some of us (not mentioning any names) are "usually tucked up in bed by 9.00pm" so staying at work and actually being active until 1.30 - 2.00am was a massive stretch!

We also had a few people who had never managed an event before or participated in an event like this. So many lessons have been learned along the way and valuable experience gained.

We made it count

Walkers raising money to support Big Issue vendors.

 'All funds raised have gone directly to supporting more Big Issue vendors who are working hard to move away from a life of poverty and exclusion on the streets.'

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