5 min read
Community unity through COVID-19
Reimagining the ways in which we make an impact that matters for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, we have been looking at new ways in which we can support our community. Our usual face-to-face volunteering programmes have come to a halt for now; however, the need for support in the community has grown significantly since the outbreak here in Ireland.
Keeping the community at the forefront of our minds, we identified the elderly and those who are homeless as being particularly vulnerable during this pandemic. By supporting organisations with whom we already have longstanding relationships, we knew that we could react quickly to support their vulnerable clients – those who need it most in these unprecedented times.
To support the elderly, we made a financial contribution to Age Action’s Hardship Fund, which supported the needs of their clients throughout the pandemic. We also worked with Age Action to see how we could continue to support their Computer Literacy Programme, which assists the elderly in becoming more tech-savvy to bridge the digital divide. We knew that we had a pool of willing and dedicated volunteers who were ready to share their skills with the elderly to ensure that digital isolation would not become another challenging factor to overcome. Our volunteers have been able to carry out their sessions with their Age Action learners over the phone or via Zoom, which not only builds their skills, but also ensures that there is a weekly call with a friendly volunteer.
We knew that Covid-19 would make living in sheltered or temporary accommodation even more challenging, and so we connected with our Christmas charity partners: Dublin Simon Community, Focus Ireland and Sophia Housing to see what we could offer to help make life a little bit easier for both the charities and their clients. In connecting with these charities, we directed our people to wish lists for items to keep children living in emergency accommodation entertained during their time in isolation. These wish lists enabled our people to send activity packs to those living in emergency accommodation, a small gesture with a big impact on someone’s daily life.
Throughout the COVID 19 situation, our relationship with the Dublin Simon Community continued to evolve as our Recruitment Team began to work closely with the charity’s Employment Team. Identifying the need for more frontline workers in supermarkets for example, the team at the Dublin Simon Community knew that they worked with individuals who, with a bit of extra support and encouragement, could have the potential to fill these positions. We knew that our Recruitment Team could help. By volunteering their time and skills, members of our Recruitment Team were able to provide CV workshops as well as conduct mock interviews to support those seeking employment, putting jobseekers in the best possible position to secure employment in such industries, especially during these challenging times. For some of the individuals involved, this was their first interview while for others, the support and belief of the volunteers was the boost of confidence that they needed.
We have also continued to work with our WorldClass educational charity partners, albeit, in reimagined ways.
Our volunteering programmes with the Early Learning Initiative (ELI) may have come to a pause during the pandemic, but our people have been looking at new ways to support them. Our people have been sharing virtual ‘day in the life’ videos, outlining their career paths to date and sharing their typical working day, giving insights into what a career such as theirs might look like. ELI shared these videos with their students to keep them engaged, focused and inspired throughout the pandemic, allowing us to continue the mentoring support that would normally be in place through our in-person volunteer programmes.
Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI), another of Deloitte Ireland’s key educational partners have also faced challenges due to COVID-19. With all of their face-to-face volunteering programmes cancelled, we wanted to see how we could support them in moving some of these programmes to the virtual world. Our Central Learning team supported JAI in successfully moving one of their programmes online by facilitating ‘train the trainer’ sessions and providing best practice advice on the use of virtual platforms to JAI staff. These sessions have enabled JAI to proceed with the launch of one of their key programmes ‘Career Ready’, a one to one mentoring programme, despite Covid-19 implications.
In addition, we are proud to have donated a number of iPads and laptops to a variety of organisations and initiatives to ensure people stay connected throughout this time including the Tech2Students campaign, CBS James Street School as well as to nursing homes, hospices and hospitals around the country.
Finally, we have also collaborated with Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) to introduce a new volunteer programme ‘Time to Talk’ for our virtual interns in our Audit department to take part in. Taking place virtually, this programme aims to help participants from migrant communities whose first language is not English to gain more confidence in their conversational skills. BITCI works with people who may be facing challenges entering the workplace due to longer periods of unemployment or immigrants and refugees arriving in Ireland with very little English, which might hinder their chances of securing employment. Through this programme, our interns have the opportunity to virtually meet with a participant and help them to practice their language skills, with the hopes of improving their opportunities of access to work.
At Deloitte, our purpose is to make an Impact that Matters for our people, our clients, our community and our planet. During COVID-19, we have really considered each element of this purpose statement in more detail than ever before. Our impact in the community is part of our everyday in Deloitte and is something that we knew had to be continued throughout this pandemic.