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Meeting OUP’s mission through virtual volunteering

Meeting OUP’s mission through virtual volunteering

18 September 2020

OUP employees are given additional leave each year to volunteer with charities that further education and support learners across the world. With just a laptop, a wifi connection, and undeterred enthusiasm, our people have been using this volunteering leave to virtually support charities through lockdown. Joanna, Radha, Juan, and Grace share their experiences.

Book Aid International
Joanna Olejarz, Global People Analyst, Group HR

Joanna spent some of her volunteering time providing research support for Book Aid International. OUP has a long-running partnership with Book Aid, providing annual financial and book donations, as well as employee volunteering.

‘I have been researching small UK companies which could be approached by Book Aid. It involved doing some searching on the internet and looking for contact information. I am captivated by [Book Aid’s] mission of creating a world where everybody has access to books and education. Their scope is so broad too, from sending books through to organizing libraries and supporting higher education. The home working reality made it easier, because I am so used to doing things remotely. I used to do various volunteering in the past, but it always involved going somewhere, so this is certainly a bit different. In a way volunteering can’t get easier than that – all you need is laptop, the internet and some spare time.’

Chudar Foundation
Radha. S., Senior Product Manager for School Education

As part of OUP India’s wider Corporate Social Responsibility programme, Radha taught English to children via the Chudar Foundation, which aims to support educational and vocational learning of underprivileged children across the cities of New Delhi, Gurugram, Kolkata, and Chennai.

‘I conducted four English language teaching sessions for children aged between 6-13 years. Due to a complete lockdown in the area, we reached out [virtually] to conduct the sessions, which was both challenging and rewarding. There were 5-6 children attending the sessions, with a care giver holding the tablet in front of them.  The virtual volunteering program gave me an opportunity to connect with young learners and help them with their education during these unprecedented times. The enthusiasm of the children was a pleasant surprise, I really felt blessed and humbled.’

Capacis Foundation
Juan Alfonso Corbalán, Digital Support and Publication Manager

Juan gave volunteering time to Capacis Foundation—an NGO which helps young people with intellectual disabilities between the ages of 18 and 30 get job and build their own future. While Spain was in lockdown, OUP España organized a series of online training sessions with the students of the Foundation.

‘Capacis really resonated with me and I knew I had to get involved. I think the work they do to help young people with intellectual disabilities integrate into society and build their own futures is remarkable. I delivered a remote training session to a group of young people on the basic principles of opera. The session was set against the backdrop of the aria, Láscia Ch'io Pianga from Rinaldo by Fiedrich Haendel. Participation was much higher than I had expected, perhaps even more than if it were in person! This was a very rewarding experience for me being able to share knowledge and my passion for opera with these young people, and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.’

Orwell Youth Prize
Grace Ranola, Academic Journals Editorial Publisher

Grace volunteered to read submissions to the Orwell Youth Prize—a political writing initiative for 12-18-year-olds across the UK, which aims to encourage young people to debate the society they are a part of and the society we should be striving for.

‘I found out about the Orwell Youth Prize at the OUP volunteering fair in our Oxford office, and I guess a lot of the appeal came from knowing how excited the younger me would have been to participate in a writing prize – I’m sure a lot of OUP colleagues can relate! Like lots of people I’ve found lockdown life somewhat tricky in terms of making time for myself, so volunteering was great in forcing me to set some time aside to do something I was interested in. It was a real lockdown lift to read such provocative, imaginative, and well-crafted pieces of writing.'


Find out more about employee volunteering at OUP