Shortly after its launch in June 2011, converged technology infrastructure provider, Six Degrees Group (6DG), created a bespoke Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme to support the charity WeSeeHope (previously HOPEHIV). The programme, named Six Degrees of Hope, has grown from strength to strength ever since and has become an integral part of 6DG’s cultural DNA. Over the last four years Six Degrees of Hope has raised over £300,000 for WeSeeHope which, on average, comes to almost £1,500 per week.
WeSeeHope exists to support orphans and other vulnerable children living in extreme poverty in Southern and Eastern Africa, working with 19 local project partners in 185 communities to restore, protect, educate and equip these children sustainably. The charity knows that, given the opportunity, these children and young people have the potential to transform their own lives and create a better future for themselves, their communities, and Africa.
In order to help WeSeeHope and their project partners change the lives of as many children and young people as possible, 6DG participates in and organises several fundraising events throughout the year, and matches every penny that is raised. These include annual golf days and pub quizzes, as well as individuals running the Virgin London Marathon, and a ski trip.
As part of the initiative, a group of 6DG employees called “Hope Champions” volunteer from different departments across the company to provide a special focus on ways to raise money. They have quarterly meetings with the team at WeSeeHope to explore different ways to maximise the company’s involvement and to hear how the money they’ve raised is directly helping the charity’s beneficiaries. This is a crucial part of Six Degrees of Hope that keeps 6DG connected and engaged with the charity.
In late 2014 three Hope Champions witnessed first-hand the positive impact the inspiring initiative is having when they went to visit WeSeeHope projects in Malawi.
The 6DG ambassadors travelled to the communities that they have contributed towards over the last four years. They visited pre-schools, kids clubs’, vocational trainees and a VIP (Village Investors Programme) group, all of which provide crucial support for orphans and vulnerable children and their guardians.
The 6DG team met several beneficiaries whose lives have been transformed by the education and training that WeSeeHope and their project partners provide. They were introduced to a young woman called Rhoda, 19, who has been part of the WeSeeHope vocational training programme. Having been trained by the charity as a tailor, Rhoda now runs her own business. The income from this has significantly improved her standard of living by enabling her to re-roof her house, buy two goats and purchase seed and fertiliser to grow maize. Through training programmes, ranging from tailoring to carpentry, young people such as Rhoda are given the knowledge and skills to create a more sustainable future for their families and communities. Regular blogs from the Malawi team and a video documentary when they returned ensured that the rest of the company were told of stories such as Rhoda’s and were able to see the real difference their hard work is making.
Six Degrees of Hope is a fully invested CSR programme that runs deeper than simply filling a quota; it is a core part of the business, with the company matching every penny that is raised. Making your CSR an extension of the company culture is a fantastic way to connect with prospects, partners, suppliers and colleagues in a more fun and informal manner beyond the board room. Through well-organised and publicised events, suppliers, partners and colleagues alike can talk and extend their personal networks, while being part of something more meaningful.
Alastair Mills, CEO at 6DG and Ambassador for WeSeeHope, commented, “Having an active CSR programme brings employees, partners and suppliers together on a more ‘down to earth’ level. Caring is a central part of our company ethos, whether this is for products, clients or charity ventures. A strong CSR programme creates and maintains a company culture that is instilled from the senior management team, and throughout the company. 6DG’s ethos is fundamentally about connecting people and the work we do with WeSeeHope is integral to this.”