It’s a privilege to be able to make a difference in your own community. Seeing the work you do making an impact on those around you brings rewards that are hard to find in any other part of life.
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That’s what motivated Royal Bank of Scotland staff to reach out to an anti-poverty and homelessness charity in Aberdeen.
From the start of this year, staff from the city’s St Nicholas Branch have been volunteering with Aberdeen Street Friends. The charity distributes food and hot drinks to anyone in need in the centre of Aberdeen. Volunteers go out from Monday to Saturday with two trolleys, helping around 40 to 50 people a day.
Branch manager Jill Ewen said: “Every year we look to support a local charity as a Branch and we’d seen the Street Friends go up and down with the catering trolleys that supported their outreach programme. We did a bit of research and then made contact through Facebook. We asked for one of their leads to come and share with colleagues in the branch how they supported people in the local community to see what we could do to help them.”
Drawn to inclusivity of Aberdeen Street Friends
Jill and her colleagues were hugely impressed with what they learned about the charity. In particular, they were drawn to how inclusive it was.
She added: “The consensus among the colleagues was that this is the charity we wanted to support in 2023 because they’re very inclusive. There are no questions asked when they’re on their outreach programme over who they provide a sandwich or a coffee to. We loved that inclusivity.”
Since then, colleagues have been volunteering on a weekly basis for Aberdeen Street Friends. They join volunteers as they distribute sandwiches and hot drinks amongst those experiencing homelessness and other struggles in Aberdeen. Engaging in this kind of community outreach is something that the Royal Bank encourages.
Jill added: “We do a lot in the local communities and the bank does allow colleagues to go out into the community in which we live and work to support wherever we can. On Wednesday mornings a member of staff will go out from 10.30 to 12.30. Every member of the team has been out, including myself. It’s part of our commitment. There have been at least 12 different colleagues out with the charity supporting the outreach programme and some colleagues have been out on numerous occasions over the course of the year.”
Vital funding will help charity
Their involvement has led to Aberdeen Street Friends being nominated for the Royal Bank’s Cost of Living support fund which will see it handed £4,500 to help with its work. That sort of assistance is vital for a group that relies on donations, something Jill is hugely aware of and it engages colleagues with the community.
She said: “We can see the difference these charities make first hand. It’s tough for them with the cost of living and people perhaps donating less. We’re proud of the fact that as well as helping Street Friends with volunteering, they’re also going to be receiving a monetary donation from the bank.”
Albert Annand, a spokesperson from Aberdeen Street Friends, said: “Royal Bank of Scotland play a major role in the support of the charity by allowing staff to come out on outreach and they are also able to sometimes advise on finance. We need around four or five volunteers per day to do the outreach service but sometimes we can only secure two or three, so it’s a great help from the bank when they’re able to provide members of staff to come along as volunteers.”
For Jill though the greatest reward comes in seeing the difference that she and her colleagues are making.
She added: “It’s so rewarding and very humbling when you’re going round with the trolleys. It gives you a sense of how much people need your help. When you come back you do get that sense of ‘I’ve done something good today’.”