21 September: Virgin Media O2 has donated more than £65,000 to a foodbank after allowing staff across the UK to buy furniture and equipment from the company’s old Slough office.
Following the closure of the office in July, a small team of employees at the company, led by Project Operations Manager Riki Bali, launched an online catalogue allowing colleagues to buy office equipment as well as other items such as televisions, gym equipment, pool tables, sofas and lamps.
Having set a target of £7,500 initially, they soon smashed through that total and just seven weeks after launching the catalogue they had raised almost nine times that amount. All funds raised have been donated to Slough Foodbank.
One employee paid £1,800 for gym equipment, while a 100-inch smart TV generated a further £1,000 towards the proceeds. Elsewhere, two sofas which used to be in the office reception area contributed £100 each to the total, and a pool table was sold for £650.
Riki Bali, Project Operations Manager at Virgin Media O2, said: “After leaving our Slough office, we knew some of our equipment and furniture was no longer required. Rather than let it go to landfill, we gave our people the opportunity to give these items a second life while supporting local good causes.
“After launching the online catalogue, we were overwhelmed with interest from colleagues across the country, and as a result we’ve been able to raise much more than we initially targeted. This donation will make a real difference to people in the area, helping to keep them safe, warm and fed this winter.”
The money donated by Virgin Media O2 will allow the foodbank in Slough to provide food, gas and electricity vouchers for those who need them in the area.
Laura Cole, Slough Foodbank Manager, said: “We are so grateful for this incredible gift from Virgin Media O2 and would like to extend our thanks to everyone who supported us, with special thanks to Riki for organising the fundraising for Slough Foodbank. To receive £65,573, as one donation, is staggering to us. It quite literally is a life changing amount and will make a huge difference to the people of Slough and the surrounding area who are in food poverty crisis.
“We always have to make a judgment of how best to spend the money we receive and ensuring people who are hungry are fed is our key focus. However, one in five people on Universal Credit can’t afford to cook hot food. So, in addition to emergency food parcels, this money will provide emergency fuel vouchers for home gas or electricity for clients who top up their meter at a pay point or a post office. This will enable clients to heat the food we provide.”
Local schools, fire stations and charities have also benefitted from the initiative. Two cycle pods are to be donated to Burnham Grammar School, which plans to convert them into changing rooms for their sports teams. Meanwhile, other schools have received desks and tables for their classrooms and canteens, and some furniture, including high stools and a table, will be given to a local fire station. All crockery, including plates and mugs, has been donated to the Women’s Refuge in Reading.
Dylan Featherstone, Project & Operations Manager at Burnham Grammar School, said: “Burnham Grammar School are incredibly grateful for Virgin Media O2’s generous donation of the two cycle pods. In previous years we have received donations of office furniture from Virgin Media O2, and we are very lucky to have been donated the cycle pods which are in excellent condition.
“Over a period of time, we intend to convert the cycle pods into changing and showering facilities for our students to use, as well as members of the local community when our facilities are rented out during evenings and weekends. The current economic climate has put significant pressure on the school’s budget and this generous donation will have a significant positive impact on our students.”