This blog was written by Suzanne Spilling from Fidelity, who felt inspired to write about her corporate volunteering day with us at Stripey Stork. Originally written for Fidelity’s Intranet, she kindly gave us permission to post on our blog too. We’d like to thank Suzanne for being our guest blogger, and the whole team for all your hard work.
First off, a word of warning… I’m an accountant… A numbers person… I have a maths degree NOT an English one. I spend my life in spreadsheets (I think you get it). Writing or blogging isn’t my thing (so anyone expecting any form of quality or prose from this blog should definitely look elsewhere). But sometimes, just sometimes, you are so inspired by something that you want to climb to the top of a mountain and shout it out loud. So that’s my story, that’s how I ended up here… inspired and looking for a place to shout it out.
The chosen charity was a local charity called Stripey Stork, who “support children and parents experiencing hardship” (more of that to come). I’m a local mum who’s donated baby equipment, clothes, toys etc. to Stripey Stork in the past. I wanted to use our charity day to support the local community so this seemed like the perfect solution. Little did I realise the impact it would have on me and those around me.
Yesterday, our small UK Business Finance team used our first ‘charity day’. Granted, it took us a while to get here and it wasn’t an easy journey. Work is hard! Life is hard! You all know. Our diaries were a nightmare to co-ordinate, some of the charities we reached out to were also busy and didn’t get back to us, holidays got in the way… but we were feeling pretty determined (dog minded some might say) that our persistence paid off and the day finally came when we were off to ‘volunteer our time’ whatever that may be.
Our first task was to sort through donated clothes. Checking for spoiled items (if you wouldn’t put your own children in them, then put them in the recycling bin), and sorting them into age and gender. It sounds like a simple task but once you hear why you are doing it and how this might help a local child, your heart strings are pulled and you handle each item with the love and care that you would want your own children to be handled with.
The founder of the charity (Nicola) explained to us that they support local domestic abuse victims, who will often flee their homes in the middle of the night with nothing, or at best, a small bag. They explained that the next 24hrs are crucial. A lot of women will return home as the realisation sinks in that they have nothing. Imagine the heartache that mum must face when realising that she can’t provide for her child unless she returns to the environment she was trying to flee. That’s where Stripey Stork step in. They provide packages with 7 days’ worth of clothes, along with some toys and whatever else the family may need. The chances of a family returning to their homes are reduced.
Next up, preparing some school bags filled with some essentials! Another simple task I hear you say… but the heart strings just kept on being pulled. Nicola told us a story about a local young boy playing truant. Turns out, he was embarrassed because he didn’t have the necessary school equipment. He didn’t want to ask his mum because he knew she wouldn’t be able to afford it. Another local family of three young children were truanting from school on a regular basis, turns out that they only had one pair of school shoes between them and were taking it in turns to attend school. Why? In this day and age?! These are all local children; we’re not talking about some far off distant land. Stripey Stork gave us a rather worrying statistic. They reached out to a local school, offering to provide filled book bags for anyone in need. And do you know what – they got 110 requests back. From one school!
And so the day went on. Simple enough tasks with heart-breaking stories and shocking statistics behind them. We gave it our all and do you know what, when we left every single one of us felt incredibly inspired, motivated to do more and emphatically rewarded. We had given up our time but we had gotten so much more back in return.
And it didn’t stop there. Collecting my own children from school that evening had so much more meaning. The realisation that I have so much to be grateful for. And when they asked me how my day had been, for once, they listened intently. They wanted to know more, to know how they could help. The butterfly effect was happening.
So that’s why I’m here. To shout it out loud. To keep passing it on. Hopefully a few of you will be inspired enough to use your charity day. Give back in some way and see what you get back in return. Like I said at the start, don’t expect it to be easy, it may seem like hard work but I guarantee you it will be worth it.