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CSR- more than just writing a cheque

Wednesday October 18, 2017

Posted on: Wednesday October 18, 2017

Personal Group was built around the vision to help people when they need it most and our charitable work is no different. Since our Personal Assurance Charitable Trust (PACT) was founded in 1993, we are proud to have donated over £1.6 million to good causes both in the UK and abroad.

Over the last few years, we have sent groups of staff to Kenya to work with the Memusi Foundation. Our involvement with Memusi began at the start of 2015 when our Chief Executive Mark Scanlon met with the Personal Group Charity Committee. We had funds set aside to donate to charity and just needed to decide where the money would go. Our original vision was to help change the life of just one person through our efforts, Memusi was a way to help change the lives of many more - our staff included.

We didn’t want to make a one-off donation, we wanted to create a lasting impact, get our hands dirty and make a difference. The Memusi Foundation was formed by Matthew Norton with the vision of providing education for the estimated 30 million children in Africa who have never set foot in a classroom. We knew that with our charitable contributions and with help from our staff we could help turn his vision into a reality.

The key appeal to supporting the Memusi Foundation is that our staff have the opportunity to travel to Kenya to actively work to change the lives of children by giving them an education that they may not have had the chance to otherwise access. Through experiential learning, our staff become directly involved and gain an enhanced appreciation of the lives they lead back home. Personal Group has funded the construction of our own school in Shompole and every volunteer trip spends time here to meet the teachers and students and learn about their lives in Kenya as well as making improvements to the school with each trip.

Since 2015 there have been 5 trips and everyone who visits our school returns with a changed outlook. The Personal Group School in Shompole opened its gates in January 2016 and was first built to accommodate 60 children, 2 of which had disabilities, who otherwise would not be able to access education. This was double the number of children that the school was originally designed to facilitate but due to the passion and desire for education it was decided that no child would be turned away. With two more classrooms now complete, there are even more children in education thanks to the efforts of our employees.

Personal Group are proud to have long standing commitment with Memusi. Staff that apply for these trips know that they aren’t just going to meet some people in the community for a photo opportunity. Each group goes out with a mission, something that they want to achieve during the trip, something that is going to have a lasting impact on the community and the children at the school. Previous groups have taught classes on feminine hygiene, carried out much needed repairs to school uniforms, taught the kids touch rugby as well as basic IT skills. The last group to head out to Kenya started implementing solar power in the school that will drastically improve the learning conditions for both students and teachers.

One of the most impactful projects that take place at the school are the medical camps that we fund, which coincide with each of our volunteer trips. Doctors and Dentists give up their time to come to Shompole to offer free healthcare to hundreds of people in the community, using medical supplies that have been paid for by Personal Group. Our staff get involved in preparing the medical tools, handing out prescriptions and supporting the medical staff with their various tasks. One of our previous groups were so determined to see every person who turned up to the camp, they ended up using the light from their mobile phones to assist the Doctors and Dentists long after the sun had set!

As a result, we have achieved our goal but are showing no signs of slowing down. Not only have we changed the lives of so many students at the school, our impact has spread to the wider community. Our plans are to support Memusi until at least 2022, so we will have the opportunity to change the lives of so many more. The lives affected aren’t just limited to Kenya, staff who have been on a trip come back transformed and all are keen to support the Memusi Foundation in the longer term through personal fundraising back in the UK. As well as the trips, we have plans to send a shipping container (which could eventually be turned into an additional classroom) filled with books, clothes and lots of other resources to help the children who are able to go to school, thanks to the Memusi Foundation.

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