For five years, Liberum have been working closely with School-Home Support (SHS) to help disadvantaged children and young people local to their London office, many of whom face homelessness, domestic violence and extreme poverty. Liberum employees volunteer to improve literacy skills, build confidence and raise aspirations. They read weekly with children from St Mary’s Primary School in Islington and host Aspiration Days for families to visit Liberum offices and learn about pathways to employment. Volunteers also donate Christmas Hampers to boost the morale of families at a difficult time of year. In addition to this, Liberum employees fundraise for our SHS practitioners to work in four schools in London. From April-August 2015, Liberum and SHS supported 161 disadvantaged children and their families: 58% of these children were eligible for Free School Meals and 24% had Special Educational Needs. 62% of pupils supported by our partnership improved their behaviour at school and 68% of pupils became more engaged in their learning (as assessed by their class and form teachers). 100% of pupils with poor school attendance made an improvement.
This partnership has now been shortlisted for the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards 2016 (Education and Lifelong Learning Award category), and we’re absolutely thrilled! The Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards recognise and celebrate organisations making an exemplary impact in London’s communities. The Awards are designed to showcase best practice and inspire others to get involved in their communities, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and sustainable London. They’re in their 29th year, and we couldn’t be more proud to be part of the Awards’ legacy.
At SHS, we strongly value our partnerships and believe that they have a positive impact on everyone involved. For example, partnering with SHS has changed the ethos of Liberum: 82% of employees say they feel more connected to Liberum and their HR adviser has explained that “We have recruited more people from disadvantaged backgrounds since we’ve been working with SHS because we understand people’s struggles and pasts more.”
Feedback from the families we have helped together has also been overwhelmingly positive. Many of the children and their parents have never been inside a corporate environment before. One of the mothers from Hungerford Primary School explained that although her son was bright, she had been worried about his future, as they struggled financially and that sometimes made him lose focus at school. She was moved when she saw him at the front of the group asking lots of questions, realising his potential. Now she’s seen him in this environment it has enabled her to understand how to use that experience to remind him of his capabilities. She has no other such networks that give her this opportunity. She spoke about how she would be able to remind him of this experience when things were tough at home to spur him on to do well at school, so that he can work at somewhere like Liberum in the future.
The children from the reading group call the volunteers ‘superheroes’ and ‘their banker friends’. Ashan, English teacher at St Mary’s Primary School, has explained that “these kids don’t have the opportunity to read with adults at home, Liberum volunteers have a really positive impact on their confidence, helping them to come out of their shells and promoting their love of reading”.
Tony Scawthorne, COO, says, “At Liberum we feel it is important to get involved directly with the local community and the charities that we support. For us, it’s not solely about writing a cheque – participation is a really powerful way of making a difference. We are 8 years old and have been supporting SHS for 5 years. All of our employees contribute in some way to help disadvantaged children and their families, whether that’s through fundraising events, a weekly reading group, Aspiration Sessions or Christmas Hampers.”
The current Lord Mayor is Alderman Jeffrey Mountevans and he will present awards to the winners at a celebratory dinner on the 27th September. We will be sure to keep you all updated as to whether we’re successful!