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International Volunteer Day at OUP
09 December 2019
OUP allows employees two days off each year to dedicate to volunteering and on Thursday 5 December for International Volunteer Day, we celebrated our first employee volunteering fair with the goal of increasing awareness of this programme.
The fair was a way for employees from across the OUP family to get involved in volunteering, with stalls from several of our charity partners, including:
- African Hospital Libraries (AHL)
- Book Aid International
- Children Heard and Seen
- Orwell Youth Prize
- The Access Project
The event opened up doors to the benefits of volunteering and we even got a visit from award-winning illustrator Korky Paul (pictured left) who has also worked with Children Heard and Seen. Alex Talbott represented The Orwell Foundation on the day, and commented, 'Being able to recruit volunteers from Oxford University Press is invaluable for the Orwell Youth Prize. With access to the skills of OUP staff, we’re able to offer young people trying to develop their writing skills something unique – quality feedback from the largest (and arguably most respected) [university] publisher in the world! A big thank you to all who signed up.’
Book Aid's Head of Operation Harry Boughton, added 'Meeting everyone at OUP and discussing volunteering with Book Aid International was a really great experience and a great opportunity to build on the support we receive from OUP. Our volunteers collectively contribute thousands of hours of their time every year, which enables us to achieve a great deal more than we could in our small team alone. We’re hopeful we will see a few OUP faces in our warehouse throughout 2020 helping us build on the 1.2 million books we send each year.'
We support our teams to share their talents as a way to expand on our mission to further excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. In Oxford, our Group Communications team spent some time last year volunteering with AHL, which aims to increase access to life-saving medical learning materials across Africa. The small charity works across a number of hospitals in Sierra Leone, and our team worked with them to ensure that good communications infrastructure was in place to allow them to continue their invaluable mission. In the US, our Cary team in North Carolina spent a day packing 600 book bags with free school supplies for local charity Read and Feed, which supports children whose literacy attainment levels are below the national US benchmark.
One recent volunteering project involved our Ethics and Compliance team working together on an initiative to build bikes for Oxford charity Children Heard and Seen, which provides support for children whose parents are incarcerated. Around 40 took part, including OUP’s Chief Executive Nigel Portwood and members of OUP’s Executive Committee. The initiative also gained support from some Oxford bike retailers—Cycle King donated a large collection of helmets, while technical know-how was provided by James Watkins of Oxford Cycle Support Ltd.
Speaking of OUP’s volunteering programme, Susan Armour, Group Ethics and Compliance Officer, said ‘We all found this experience rewarding. Taking part in such activities is so rewarding for all parties involved, and it really helps bring our mission to life. It speaks to who we are.’
Written by James Gant, on placement with OUP Group Communications