How a small team of employees, drawn from all skill levels, set out to inspire and ignite the Added Value UK business to Be the Difference…

“We’re called the Be Keepers and we’re dedicated to be a motivating force for good at Added Value, with some inspirational results. Why did we rally together? Well, put simply, there’s a major shift going on in the world. From closed to open, protected to connected and aware to active. And we were clear that Added Value needed to be a part of this shift. We wanted a more enhanced and more effective CSR strategy with a clear and strong vision. With Be the Difference, we launched three initiatives for the year, encouraging Added Value’s UK employees to Be ActiveBe Generous and Be Green.”

Be Active: Because we welcome hard graft, we got the business to commit to one day for each individual to help a charity/social enterprise of their choice. Our people have volunteered for causes they’re passionate about. Collectively we’ve planted trees, helped put on a theatre production with disadvantaged children, brightened up a local charity shop with a lick of fresh paint, helped run a golf day for Street Child Africa, (which raised over £25,000), got hands dirty by clearing up a very overgrown garden for a local Samaritans centre, organizing a duck race on the River Thames, managing a stall, being stewards and helping with the pre and post logistics for the local River Festival.

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Be Generous: Because we want to build lasting partnerships, we committed to work with our charity partners (Shooting Star Chase, The DoNation, TEAM UP and Trees for Cities) throughout the year. We now offer two company-wide half days to help with their challenges as well as ad-hoc trouble shooting. The impact of this has been two-fold, giving our partners valuable time and skills and giving our people a chance to develop a different side to themselves.We lead a workshop with DoNation to help them define their character and mission statement. It allowed junior members of our team the opportunity to develop facilitation skills, while giving DoNation invaluable brand thinking.

We worked with TEAM UP to help them define their character and tone of voice for the revamped brand. It gave us a cross functional team the chance to work on a new challenge. And it gave TEAM UP a new look and feel for their new website, resulting in attracting hundreds of applications from university students and more sponsorship.

We’re not afraid to get hands on either. We’ve helped decorate the garden of one of Shooting Star Chase’s children’s hospices, giving us a good dose of creative fun and fresh air and providing them with a sparkly, vibrant outside space. As well as helping Shooting Star Chase by painting Bollywood inspired posters to decorate one of their centres, giving their local charity shops a face-lift with a lick of paint and revamping pieces of donated furniture to sell in their charity shops.

And we raised good old hard cash too, for instance, the £150 raised by a team who cycled from London to Brighton for our summer party was enough to pay a day’s wages for a senior nurse at Shooting Star Chase’s hospices. We’ve been to their hospice and we know the difference this makes. £500 raised for Comic Relief with a company fancy dress up day, which could provide 400 children with life-saving anti-malarial drugs until they reach hospital, £235 for East End Shed, a charity offering theatre groups to underprivileged kids and we run a quarterly in-office coffee shop, the proceeds of which are distributed to a different charity each time.

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Be Green: Because small actions can make a big difference, we committed to inspiring behavioural change amongst the team. We embarked on an innovative inter-team competition to reduce our collective carbon footprint and positively affect the environment on an individual level too, in partnership with the DoNation. It’s a two way vision, as we’re committed to helping the DoNation develop their offer into a potential business-facing initiative by trialling the DoNation as a behavioural change vehicle that could be rolled out across the Added Value Group on a global scale.

Round 1 of The DoNation at Added Value UK saw us pledge a total of 107 actions, saving 7t of CO2 in just 2 months (the equivalent of seven return flights to New York from London) and contributing to our global environmental CSR targets. Round 2 was an even bigger success, aiming for 150 actions this time and an even greater impact. In this vein, we have a non-stop clothes, book and DVD swap and our revamped video conferencing facilities are enabling us to ramp up our ‘think twice before travel’ policy to encourage behavioural change over the longer term.

So, what makes Be the Difference different? What we do is so much more than just a corporate responsibility. We’re using our skills, passion, energy and enthusiasm to make small changes to the community and world around us because we want to, not because we’re being told to. Being the difference towards building a better, brighter, greener future the Be Initiatives are something that really matter to our people and that matter to our partners. In sharing just a small amount of time, we make a huge difference. Feedback from our partners tells us we’re dedicated. We’re enthusiastic. And our involvement has been a massive turning point in their ventures. Like them, we can’t wait to build on the Be initiatives and continue to innovatively engage Added Value to ‘Be the difference’ in 2014.

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Contacts:

Shooting Star Chase: http://www.shootingstarchase.org.uk/

The DoNation: http://www.thedonation.org.uk/

TeamUp: http://teamup.org.uk

Trees for cities: http://www.treesforcities.org/

 

Written by Ian LaPoint.

 

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