Vodafone teams have been putting their Hands Up this month to support local community organisations across the country.
They include staff in Dunedin who rolled up their sleeves for a day of helping out at Malcam Trust’s outdoor classroom and urban farm, Kowhai Grove, and in the Bay of Plenty working alongside Bay of Plenty Rugby staff and high performance players to host a working bee and sausage sizzle at Bay of Plenty Sexual Assault Support Services.
It’s all part of the Vodafone Foundation’s Hands Up initiative, which gives staff members up to two weeks of fully paid time annually to put their hands up to volunteer.
Vodafone HR Director, Antony Welton said it’s a programme many feel passionate about.
“Hands Up is about enabling our people to volunteer their time, skills and knowledge to Vodafone Foundation community partners, as well as to any New Zealand charitable organisation they are passionate about. A staggering 181 volunteers put in 481 hours in Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Christchurch and Dunedin,” Antony said.
In Auckland, Vodafone volunteered to lend a hand at the Merge Café set up by long-term community partner Lifewise, which is also developing a regional strategy to end youth homelessness, connect existing services and build a national collaborative platform.
Vodafone Foundation Engagement lead Cristina Serrano Rueda was one of those helping to serve meals, and in the kitchen.
“It’s a place where you can go to eat well, feel good, and do good all at the same time. When you pay for your coffee or meal (lunch is just $4!), you have the option to pay it forward and pay for someone’s lunch.
“It was awesome seeing how some of the people experiencing homelessness from the area come to the café and have a meal at the same table as people from the businesses nearby – it has a great community feeling to it, and most people seemed to know each other,” Cris said.
Another team led by Vodafone’s Jo Hampton mucked in with a stint in the Lifewise gardens.
“We had a superb day. Right from the start Liz and Nathan welcomed us and told us how grateful they were for us being there. Our team worked really well together, everyone pitched in and worked hard. We had a new team member joining us for this, and it was a great way to get to know someone outside of work. I would really recommend this as a team building event – with a purpose,” Jo said.
In the Bay of Plenty, Cindy Lee of Bay of Plenty’s Sexual Assault Support Services said the support of local businesses and sporting heroes at events like the working bee helps to break the silence about the issue of sexual assault.
“As the recent, worldwide #metoo phenomenon has highlighted, we have a problem with people being harmed sexually. Here in New Zealand one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually assaulted by the age of 16. We want to get a conversation going about it and prevent this harm from happening.”
“We provide medical, counselling and crisis support to survivors of sexual assault across the Bay. But we need to do more than this. We want to make real strides in prevention, and the Vodafone Foundation is helping us to make progress in this space,” Cindy said.
Desiree Williams, CEO of Malcam Trust said they were proud to host the Dunedin-based Vodafone team at Kowhai Grove, which plays a significant part in student development for the Trust’s Farmhand programme.
“Thanks to the Vodafone Foundation, we set up Farmhand, which is a training programme that connects young people with experiential education and work in primary industries and the environment. Participants achieve strong outcomes in terms of education and employment and also contribute over 1000 hours of volunteering every year.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to show Vodafone just how their investment has made a difference,” Desiree added.
For Vodafone Foundation Manager Lani Evans the benefit is clear.
“The goal of the Vodafone Foundation is to halve the number of excluded and disadvantaged young people in New Zealand by 2027. We’re proud to support all our community partners in bringing this vision to life,” Lani said.