Lockdown charity giveaway nets £16k for North West causes

A charity cash giveaway which started during lockdown has raised more than £16,500 for local causes.

Workers at United Utilities’ call centres in Warrington and Whitehaven started the weekly fund-raiser during lockdown to help keep team spirits high and lend each other moral support while most of them were working from home.

Twenty-six local good causes nominated by call centre staff shared the cash.
Now, as more staff start coming back to a specially COVID-adapted workplace this week, the lockdown giveaway has come to an end.

Customer services and people director Lou Beardmore said fund-raising had been a tradition in United Utilities’ call centres and the company wanted to help staff keep it going even if they were working from home.

“Our call centre staff always do some great work to raise money and we wanted to keep that going. As well as helping us keep in touch with each other while we have been working remotely, hopefully it’s given a much needed boost to some really great local organisations who might have found their usual fund-raising activities curtailed. Now that more of us will be back in the office I’m sure our creative colleagues will find new socially-distanced ways to have fun and raise money like they used to,” she said.

Heath, safety and wellbeing director Paula Steer, who has been overseeing United Utilities efforts to support employees working at home and in the office said: “Although a limited number of our staff carried on coming into our offices throughout lockdown, many switched entirely to working from home. It’s been a huge challenge for everyone so this week will be a welcome step back towards normality.

“Things will not be exactly as they were pre-lockdown. The need to maintain a social distance of at least 2m means we can’t have people seated at every desk, but teams will be back on a rota system so everyone gets at least some time back in the office. It will be good to get some normality and rhythm back into the working week,” she said.

As well as staggered seating arrangements, lower room occupancy and enhanced cleaning, the open plan office will be operating as a one-way circulation system. Special cleaning stations with hand-sanitiser and other cleaning equipment will be available for staff to use and there will be voluntary temperature checking at the building’s entrance.

Charities to benefit from the funds raised during lockdown included food banks, hospices, the North West Air Ambulance, pet, children’s and women’s charities, Cancer Research UK and the RNLI.