At this time of unprecedented challenge, millions of people have been helped and inspired by the charities and community groups combatting Covid-19 and its effects at a local level. From large, multi-national organisations to ‘pop-up’ groups formed by friends and neighbours, the voluntary and community sector has been playing a major role supporting vulnerable citizens around the world.
The Serco Foundation – Serco’s independent charitable trust supporting vulnerable citizens internationally – invited every one of our colleagues to nominate voluntary organisations which are providing meaningful and valuable support to people struggling with the impact of the virus.
The Foundation’s invitation was met with a wonderful and overwhelming response. From Victoria to Virginia, from Iraq to the Isle of Wight, from Darwin to Dubai, our colleagues wrote in on behalf of a huge range of causes – from food banks and homeless shelters to places of worship and senior centres – including those designing new and innovative services from scratch to combat the challenges posed by Covid-19.
The Coronavirus Community Support Fund ran from March to July 2020 and made more than £545,000 of grants to almost 300 organisations nominated by Serco colleagues in each of our four regions. Recipients across almost twenty countries include hospices, education and healthcare organisations, groups supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence, mental health specialists, religious groups, respite care, community food schemes, not-for-profit transportation providers and charities supporting displaced or disadvantaged communities.
“The work of multinational charities is rightly acknowledged for its role in confronting the hidden enemy of Coronavirus,” said Kate Steadman, Chair of Trustees, “but inspiring and valuable work is also being carried out by many small organisations. Our Community Support Fund focuses largely on those. We are proud and privileged to support such amazing people and efforts around the world, and to make a small contribution to their life-changing and, in many cases, live-saving work.”
Jackie McManus (above, far left), a Soft Services Manager at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, nominated Highlink Education Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, our Zayed University team were raising funds to help rebuild the centre, which looks after children who are orphaned or victims of domestic violence. With Highlink struggling due to the pandemic, Jackie asked for help that could ensure these children have a safe place to stay, learn and build a foundation for their future. “When I received the email that said we were accepted,” said Jackie, “I could not believe what I was reading. I had to read it three times and then cried tears of joy. We can never thank the Serco Foundation enough for supporting us during this difficult time.”
Kevin Stanley, a Community Network Co-ordinator and proud descendent of the Wiradjuri Indigenous Nation, Australia, nominated several charities, all with strong personal significance. “The scheme felt like such a positive response to the challenges faced at this time, including by Australia’s First Nations People,” said Kevin. “Covid-19 has made life more challenging for many, especially if English isn’t their first language.” The non-profit organisation, Pathfinders – improving quality of life and wellbeing for children, youth and families within target communities – was among those to receive a grant. “My husband and I are the proud guardians of three wonderful Indigenous (Koori) kids who were supported by organisations like Pathfinders,” explains Kevin. “It’s wonderful that, through the Foundation, we can give something back.’