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Covid-19 – Supporting our communities

Image: Serco Americas colleagues from our Benefits Administration Services team in Fairfax, Virginia, at a FACETS hot meals distribution event.

Operating amongst and on behalf of our communities, we have a deep understanding of the complex social challenges that impact them. Across Serco, positive and meaningful engagement with individual communities, charities and partners is managed primarily at Contract level.

Every year, our teams work to develop and strengthen service-enhancing relationships with their local communities whilst striving to make a difference for the causes that matter most to them. Our role is to encourage and facilitate such endeavour, providing additional support where appropriate.

Throughout 2020, this has taken on new meaning and greater urgency. Even whilst working to ensure continuity of essential public services and addressing unprecedented challenges in their own lives, our teams have rallied hard to help charities and community groups combat the challenges posed by Covid-19.

Examples of how Serco colleagues supported their communities during 2020:

Serco Europe – Care2Connect

Early in the Coronavirus pandemic, Serco Europe launched the ‘Care2Connect’ scheme to encourage our European colleagues to undertake good deeds and make a difference in support of their local communities during lockdown. All employees were invited to publish their positive actions on a dedicated app. For each action published, Serco Europe donated money to a local charity in each country, chosen by Serco Europe employees.

Our colleagues in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands completed 158 Care2Connect ‘challenges’ between them – such as volunteering for local emergency services and making personal protective equipment – raising a grand total of more than EUR 6,500 for charities across Europe, which included additional donations from the Serco Foundation Coronavirus Community Support Fund Scheme (see below).

The original Care2Connect scheme ran until May 2020.  A second campaign ran through November and December, responding to the reintroduction of stronger Covid-19 restrictions. Once again, our Serco Europe Colleagues raised several thousand Euros for their chosen charities – this time by completing 286 Care2Connect actions focused on the wellbeing of our colleagues and their families.

Serco Americas – FACETS

For our colleagues in Benefits Administration Services (BAS) supporting the US Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, social outreach and volunteering is a fundamental part of their team culture. They have a long history of donating funds and their time and effort to a wide range of local causes.

Throughout the pandemic, the team have supported FACETS, a non-profit organisation serving disadvantaged members of the community in Fairfax, Virginia. They contributed more than $3,000 in donations in 2020, but also began working regularly with FACETS out in the community, distributing hot meals and other essentials to those in need. 25 members of our team volunteered approximately 150 hours for FACETS during the pandemic and are continuing that work in 2021.

“We’re passionate about taking action to support those in need in our community,” said Chris Sherman, BAS Engagement Officer. “We knew the impact from cutbacks and layoffs caused by the pandemic would exacerbate many of the challenges already faced by different groups in the community. We heard about the increasing need for food, basic supplies, and services, and are proud to be doing what we can to help. We also found that our support for FACETS helped to keep us together and united as a team, even though many of us are working remotely. Going forward, we’ll continue supporting FACETS as well as ramping up similar efforts in our Ohio and Florida sites.”

Serco Asia Pacific – Healthy Communities Grants Program

Managed by the Serco team at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) as part of its corporate social responsibility strategy, the Healthy Communities Grants Program offers grants of up to $1,500 to not-for-profit organisations, schools and community groups based in Perth’s South Metropolitan region.

From October to December 2020, the programme provided much-needed support to 15 different organisations, targeting initiatives focused on health and wellbeing. These included a community vegetable garden, an Aboriginal culture programme at a women’s refuge, sensory resources for children with disability or who have experienced trauma and centre resources for seniors’ groups and at-risk pregnant teenagers.

“The role of community groups and not-for-profits is more important now than ever before. Many have come under pressure in recent months due to increased demand for their services and declining donations,” said Helen Robinson, Serco FSH Contract Director. “Our Healthy Communities Grants Program has made a tangible difference in helping important local organisations maintain key services or launch something new.”

Serco UK – London Borough of Brent

Many of our UK colleagues volunteered their time, effort and expertise in whatever ways they were most needed whilst working reduced hours during national lockdown.

When Brent Council asked for help to ensure vulnerable citizens could still access food during the crisis, our team of Civil Enforcement Officers who provide parking services to the London Borough of Brent – many of whom live in the community – gladly got involved.

“We take great pride coming together with the community to help vulnerable shielded residents,” said Savio Moraes, Serco Civil Enforcement Supervisor, who took the lead on the food service redeployment.

The team initially provided parking services and packaging support for the Council’s temporary food distribution hub at the Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre. As the impact of the crisis became more severe, however, they stepped up to deliver food parcels to the homes of the most vulnerable, doing so without hesitation and with the utmost care for the safety of those citizens.

Simon Finney, Head of Service for Brent Council, said: “Without the Serco team we really would have struggled to set up and maintain the food delivery service. They were an invaluable aspect of the operation.”

Serco Middle East – Remote learning aid for fixed-income families

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where we are a proud active member of the Sustainability Network hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we work closely with our customers to support a wide range of charitable and humanitarian initiatives every year, and 2020 was certainly no exception.

For example, among a variety of different campaigns and events led or supported by our customer, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), our colleagues at the Dubai Metro and Tram lent their support to the RTA Foundation’s Home-Learning Environment for Fixed-Income Families initiative.

Through the provision of furniture, equipment and other resources, the initiative delivered effective home-learning environments for students in low-income families under further pressure from Covid-19. These effectively simulated the school environment at home, encouraging children to maintain their studies while schools remained closed in response to Covid-19.

Our colleagues sourced furniture and equipment, aligned to standard school specifications, for 200 students and helped to install the new home-learning environments where required.

The Serco Foundation – Coronavirus Community Support Fund

Per its commitment to support vulnerable citizens internationally, the Serco Foundation – our independent charitable trust – launched the Coronavirus Community Support Fund in March 2020. All Serco employees in every region were invited to nominate not-for-profit organisations helping fight the Covid-19 emergency in their local communities to receive financial support.

The Coronavirus Community Support Fund made more than £600,000 of grants to 300 organisations during 2020. Recipients in c.20 countries included 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.

For example:

  • Jackie McManus, Soft Services Manager at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, nominated Highlink Education Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Jackie and her colleagues had been 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 to ensure these children have a safe place to stay, learn and build a foundation for their future.

  • Kevin Stanley, a Community Network Coordinator in Serco Asia Pacific, nominated several charities, all with strong personal significance. 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.

“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.”