Over the last decade, Voisin has worked with Mont a L’Abbe School, a school which cares for children with special needs from 4 to 16 years old.
The first involvement with the School was in 2007. Voisin & VG (formally Volaw Group) funded a sensory room for the children. The donation was the largest the school has received from a local business, funded state-of-the-art sensory equipment for their new secondary school building. Regarding the project, headteacher of Mont à l’Abbé School, Sharon Eddie said: “This will ensure that our pupils have access to the most advanced sensory room technology possible. I cannot begin to explain how important this facility will be for many of our severely disabled pupils.”
Since then, Voisin has continued to support the school in a variety of ways, some requiring financial contributions, others relying on Voisin’s staff giving up their time to help the school and its pupils. Staff at Voisin have been very passionate about getting involved, which has meant that the company’s help has always led to a positive outcome.
Initiatives include some staff helping out during the School’s Maths Week. Head of Marketing Georgina Jeffries said she was delighted with the response she received: “The experience left me inspired by the children, who despite obvious difficulties and problems, maintained such a positive and refreshing attitude to their school work. It was also clear how much they were motivated by people outside their normal daily circle paying them attention and showing interest and care.”
Staff have also collected books to donate for Reading Week and planting trees and shrubs to make a sensory garden. The garden project was devised to highlight Mencap’s Learning Disability Week. Volunteers from Voisin were given time off work to help the pupils create a garden that the children can use for learning and play. Voisin also fundraised to pay for playhouses, plants, tubs and bright colourful outdoor beanbags and parasols. Jenny Costford of Voisin’s HR team has fond memories of the experience: “The children were delighted to see us and were very keen to join in with the planting arrangement and especially with the watering! I felt really good about being actively involved and doing something really beneficial for the children. I believe that our association with the School shows that we are a caring organisation that thinks of others in our community.”
Voisin also present the Volaw Friendship Cup at the end-of-year assembly, an award that is intended to reflect the ethos of the School’s teaching. The staff attend the assembly every year to present this cup and many stay on in their own time to help out at the end of year pupil, teacher and parents BBQ, which is also sponsored by the firm. Jeffrey Giovannoni, Voisin partner said: “I always feel very privileged when I am invited to Mont à l’Abbé to present the Voisin/Volaw Friendship Cup. The kindness and friendship that the pupils extend to each other are overwhelming and at Voisin, we are proud of the on-going relationship we have with the school and hope that it will continue for many more years.”
Over the last 8 years, Voisin has arranged for local Michelin starred chef Shaun Rankin to work with the children on a variety of different cookery demonstrations. Shaun gave the School’s senior children an interactive cookery demonstration of his famous Treacle Tart. The children learned how to make the perfect pastry, got their hands’ dirty mixing breadcrumbs and golden syrup, before tasting the delicious dessert. Along with staff members from Voisin, he helped the junior members of the school make mince pies before Christmas and last year he worked with the junior school and The Savoy hotel to make Christmas gingerbread, which each pupil could decorate and take home to their families.
Every Christmas the school choir sings carols for staff at the offices to say ‘thank you’ for everything the firm has done throughout the year. This reciprocity makes staff proud of their efforts and always boosts morale. One member of staff commented: “The children seem to enjoy the carol singing as much as we do. It is the best start to my Christmas and when Father Christmas comes into our reception the children are always so excited!”
Head of Marketing Georgina Jeffries, comments: “We are very proud of our CSR programme. We believe that CSR is about more than just spending money; Our approach recognises our wider responsibility within our society and we value the opportunity to participate in positive initiatives within the community. Our CSR programme requires what most business relationships need; long-term commitment, dedication and relationship building, and this award reflects on the efforts of all of our staff who have been involved in these projects and who share in this success.”