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How OneFamily supported the community in 2023

December 2023

At OneFamily, our communities are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we try to support charitable causes in any way we can - from donations to volunteering.

As part of this commitment, every OneFamily colleague gets three days a year to get away from their desks and volunteer for a cause they believe in. In 2023, over 140 OneFamily colleagues made use of their volunteering days, attending 240 volunteering sessions for 16 different charities.

Beyond volunteering, we’ve also supported charitable causes in other ways, such as matching our colleagues’ fundraising efforts and donating to causes dedicated to helping those who need it most.

Read on to find out all the ways we’ve supported good causes this year.

Helping young people kickstart their careers with Spear

Spear has been a charity partner of ours for a few years now. The charity helps young people get ready for the world of work, giving them the tools they need to break into their chosen careers and stay employed long term.

We help Spear achieve this aim by showing candidates on the programme what they can expect from job interviews and helping them to prepare. We’ve mock interviewed candidates from every programme that Spear has run this year, teaching essential life skills that will help them to show their best selves in an interview situation.

In 2023, we also hosted a Careers Panel to tell the candidates about different jobs and we welcomed the young people into our offices to give them a glimpse of working life. We’ll also be supporting Spear with a recruitment event before the end of the year.


Giving teens a boost into higher education with IntoUniversity

Another one of our charity partners, IntoUniversity, also supports young people to get started in life. The charity helps children from less advantaged neighbourhoods move onto higher education or get started in their chosen career.

The charity provides teenagers with a safe, quiet space to study and learn at learning centres across the country, and helps them find out more about careers with its FOCUS programme.

Our contribution to the charity is through long-term corporate mentoring. OneFamily colleagues are paired with a young person for 18 months. During this time, the mentor will help their mentee with things like their UCAS application, researching their options and planning their future, and even things like helping them with some of the practical parts of planning a gap year!

This year, our volunteers also got involved with some more physical work by redecorating the training room in their Brighton learning centre, making the room a more comfortable, inviting space for the children.


Promoting sexual health with the Terrence Higgins Trust

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has made it its mission to make sexual health accessible to everyone in the UK, without judgement or stigma.

The charity runs a variety of projects to support its mission, including a sexual health helpline, community projects working with people living with HIV, counseling and peer support programmes.

THT also campaigns for better sexual health education to be taught in schools.

In several sessions during February, March, July and October, OneFamily team members helped pack sexual health kits to be handed out in local pubs and clubs in Brighton. These packs are part of the charity’s goal to stop new HIV cases in the UK by 2030. Over four sessions, our volunteers helped pack over 4,000 of these kits!

volunteering terrence higgins trust

Helping The Clock Tower Sanctuary lend the homeless youth a hand

Another of our long-term charity partners, The Clock Tower Sanctuary is a Brighton-based charity that offers life-changing support to young people experiencing homelessness in the city.

Throughout 2023, OneFamily volunteers have not only volunteered for the charity, but helped raise money for them as well.

Colleagues helped to clean up and repaint their entrance to make it more welcoming for those visiting the charity for support. Other colleagues also took on this year’s Hike for Homelessness, helping to raise money for the charity.

Early in the year, some of our team members also braved the cold for the Big City Sleep Out, where a total of £32,000 was raised for The Clock Tower Sanctuary by individuals who spent a cold night outside. The event took place again this month, with one OneFamily colleague joining other fundraisers for a night on the i360 terrace.

OneFamily doubled the donations of the colleagues who took part in both instances of the Big City Sleepout this year.

OF x CTS Wall Painting

Getting our hands dirty at the Stanmer Community Garden

Stanmer Community Garden is a space maintained for and by a community of volunteers. It’s a safe space for people to meet and work on arts and crafts projects, enjoy gardening and take peaceful walks in nature.

This summer, OneFamily volunteers got stuck in maintaining the garden for community members to enjoy. They pulled weeds, composted and planted seeds, repotted some plants in need, gave the vegetable garden a spruce and built a brand-new compost bin.

stanmer community garden

Tidying up the garden at the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare

We took advantage of the good weather to get even more gardening work done, this time at the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare. One of the most diverse animal rescue centres in the UK, the charity works to rescue, care for and rehome a variety of animals, from cats to alpacas.

Our team members picked and bundled up lavender to be sold in the charity’s shop. They then dedicated the rest of the day to cleaning up one of the gardens, pulling weeds, and nettles and scraping away moss, helping to improve the site for both visitors and staff.


Sprucing up the grounds at Martlets hospice

Gardening work isn’t only for the summer months. In November, OneFamily volunteers got their rain gear on and helped give the grounds at Martlets’ Brighton hospice a much-needed refresh. The hospice had been closed to patients for most of 2023, while a brand-new wing was built.

As Martlets got ready to reopen and welcome patients back in, it was important to prepare the gardens for visitors too.

Our team members spent a rainy day digging up weeds, planting wildflowers and putting down benches for patients to rest on while enjoying some fresh air.

Martlets hospice provides essential care to people at the end of their lives, as well as offering much-needed support for their families during a difficult time.

“Our gardens are all maintained by volunteers, so having the team on site meant we could get through jobs that's would usually take us many weeks. The gardens are such an important part of the experience to our patients and families, so it really does make a difference.”

Georgia Ellick, Volunteering Services Development Manager at Martlets

Martlets 001 14 Nov 2023

Bringing new life to a community space with the Swindon Mechanics’ Institution Trust

The Swindon Mechanics’ Institution Trust has been restoring historic buildings and landmarks in Swindon since 1995. The charity turns them into vibrant spaces where locals can meet and socialise.

OneFamily volunteers spent a day giving the charity’s Central Community Space a new look, giving the walls a fresh coat of paint complete with a bright pop of colour. This helped make the space brighter and more welcoming to those looking to meet fellow Swindon residents and bond with their community.


Working to feed the hungry with the Swindon Food Collective

Swindon’s local, independent food bank, the Swindon Food Collective, helps put food on the table for those hit hardest by the cost-of-living crisis. The food bank helps feed over 10,000 people a year, with about a third of them being children.

In October, colleagues based at the Swindon office rolled up their sleeves and got to work at the food bank sorting through the many items kindly donated by members of the local community.

Donations include not just food items, but essential toiletries and pet food as well, showing that the people of Swindon won’t let anyone go without what they need.

Aaron Prasanna and Faye

Taking part in vital research for Quaker Social Action

An independent charity inspired by Quaker values, Quaker Social Action’s mission is to make life a bit easier for those on low incomes.

The charity provides support for those unable to afford funerals, helps people learn how to manage their money and increase their own financial resilience, and hosts a cooking space and mobile library for people experiencing homelessness.

Not everyone can afford to pay for a funeral when they lose a loved one, so helping Quaker Social Action look into the topic of publicly funded funerals was an easy choice.

The charity asked us to take part in some research so they can show councils how easy it is for people to find information on publicly funded funerals. OneFamily team members in our Brighton office spent an afternoon digging through local council websites from all around the UK.

Volunteers made notes on good and bad experiences and suggested ways some websites could be changed to make the information more accessible for everyone, especially those going through grief.

Sponsoring local art trails for Martlets Hospice and Julia’s House

This year, we took part in not one, but two art trails, with the proceeds from the auction of our sponsored sculptures benefitting two children’s hospice charities in the UK.

In Brighton, we sponsored a Shaun the sheep sculpture for the Shaun by the Sea art trail. For the art trail, 42 large sheep sculptures and 77 smaller ones, all uniquely designed and painted, were placed around Brighton for locals and visitors to discover. At the end of the event, the sheep were auctioned off to benefit Martlets, raising a total of £380,000 for the charity.

Meanwhile in Swindon, 30 large Swindog sculptures along with 42 smaller ‘swinpups’, each also individually painted by local artists, took over the city for the Big Dog Art Trail. They were placed near the city’s most important and cherished parks, landmarks and social areas and were auctioned off at the end of the event. The auction brought in a whopping £165,800 for Julia’s House.

shaun art trail

Helping to spread some holiday cheer through the Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal

Early in December, OneFamily volunteers in Swindon spent two days sorting through brand-new toys and other gifts collected by the Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal. These donations will be a great help to parents looking to bring joy to their children this holiday season, even if times are hard. The families receiving toy donations from the Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal have been nominated by social workers, schools, churches, and support organisations across Swindon.

OneFamily also donated £2,500 to the Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal. This money will go towards helping to fund presents that are more appropriate for older children and teenagers, as well as filling any other gaps in the donated items, making sure there's something there for every child.

Barbara Judy & Vanessa 2

Bringing some warmth to those who need it most with Wrap Up UK

Run by local Rotary Clubs across the country, Wrap Up UK’s mission is to help everyone stay warm this winter.

The initiative focuses on collecting warm clothes in good condition, such as coats and jumpers, from both individuals and businesses. These items are then distributed to charities and community organisations that hand them out to those who need it most, such as the elderly, the homeless, refugees, families living in poverty and people fleeing domestic violence.

Throughout October and November, OneFamily colleagues in the Brighton office were encouraged to bring in their unwanted winter clothes in good condition to donate to Wrap Up Brighton, the local branch of Wrap Up UK. By the end of the collection period, around 60 coats were donated, filling nine sacks! These coats will then be distributed by Wrap Up Brighton to charities such as Sussex Homeless Support, Pelican Parcels, The Clock Tower Sanctuary and RISE Brighton.

wrap up

Still to come in 2023

As we did last year, some of our team members will be helping to run Christmas-themed pub lunches for older people with Age UK.

This is a great event for older people to socialise and make new friends, but also for our volunteers to hear about the life experiences of people who they may not have had opportunity to meet otherwise.

You may also be interested in:

How we've supported our communities so far this year

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OneFamily’s volunteering and charity support in 2022

In 2022, more than 100 OneFamily employees volunteered at 36 different events, supporting 14 charitable causes.

Giving kids a head start with RedSTART

Our members voted for RedSTART to become our new charity partner – but what is RedSTART, what do they stand for and how can you help?

What does it mean to be a “mutual society”?

As a OneFamily customer, you have a say in how we spend our profits and which charities we support both financially and practically.