Vulnerable mums get home makeover by Fidelity International, London and SHS

Vulnerable mums get home makeover by Fidelity International, London and SHS

News article from June 19, 2017

 In sharp contrast to the rain this week, it was hot and sunny for the Fidelity International, London office DIY SOS Challenge last Thursday – just as well, given the scale of the operation taken on by the two teams involved. Tackling the ‘Home’ element of School-Home Support, Fidelity’s Fixed Income and Equities teams took up the challenge to transform the children’s bedrooms in two family homes in Hackney.

The mothers of the families chosen have been supported by SHS Practitioner, Collette Dorgu, are both single parents and both struggle to make ends meet. The brief was to transform the children’s bedrooms, ensuring they had a comfortable place to sleep and a designated study area with some books and learning materials. School-Home Support breaks down barriers to learning, reducing the stress that children experience at home so that they can concentrate in class. The children in both families have had more than their fair share of hardship: we know the impact poverty can have on children’s educational attainment. Though loved and well cared for, the children benefitting needed a boost to their confidence. Both families have children transitioning to secondary school in September, which makes it a critical time to ensure that they feel confident and positive about the move. Both families live in overcrowded accommodation and manage without any designated space to study at home. The DIY SOS Challenge was perfect for them – transforming their houses into homes, so that the children can thrive. As well as making a practical difference, this challenge is about boosting children’s self esteem and confidence.

It was a great day – and at the end my feet were killing me but my smile couldn’t have been wider.  It was a huge pleasure to work alongside SHS.  Everyone in Fidelity that took part in the DIY challenge was touched by the family’s story and we wanted to make their home a safe and happy place where they could grow and move on as a family.  We really hope we have achieved this for them.” – Jo Lenehan, Fidelity International, Equities Team

The two families benefitting from Fidelity’s hard work certainly had their dreams come true.    The end result in both homes was spectacular!  The small flats were transformed throughout, as Fidelity staff ambitiously took on refurbishing not only the children’s bedrooms, but the whole home. New carpets, some much needed kitchen appliances, freshly painted walls, new curtains and beautifully designed children’s bedrooms that maximised the use of small spaces meant the Fidelity team surpassed – well in fact, totally smashed – the initial brief. The reactions of both families at the end of the day would have had Nick Knowles drying his eyes!

Fidelity’s staff embraced this challenge fully from the outset, determined to go and above beyond they planned, researched, fundraised and coordinated with over 50 staff taking part!   Everyone from senior managers and support staff were hugely committed to making sure this challenge improved the living space for the children and Mums. On a practical level, this challenge was a huge success: the children gave the team 100 out of 10 for the end results, there were whoops of delight and tears of joy from all the children (even the teenagers!), but it was Fidelity’s sensitivity, humility and attention to detail that made this challenge so poignant.   The teams worked really hard to understand what would be most helpful, and the planning behind the day was extensive, thoughtful and creative. They took time to communicate carefully and check plans with School-Home Support staff, including a couple of last minute Friday evening trips to Hackney, armed with tape measures and notepads!  

One of the families on their day out

“What an amazing day! It was a real win win situation for everyone involved – we had such a fun day working as a team away from the office and as a result a well deserving family benefitted from the hard work we put in! From start to finish it was an extremely rewarding experience and I couldn’t recommend enough for more people to get involved with the scheme!” – Dan Mizen, Fidelity International, Fixed Income Team

The day itself was huge fun – flat pack assembly dramas were overcome, and “opportunities for enhancements” embraced when mattress deliveries failed or paint supplies ran a bit short!

As well as refurbishing the homes, Fidelity staff took the families on a fun day out around London. They kept the children busy and entertained with exciting new activities and opportunities to experience the city they live in. Designated volunteers planned amazing days out; there were trips on the river, magic shows, special exhibitions at the science museum and of course, ice-cream sundaes and souvenirs of their day.  

“It was an absolute pleasure being able to show the family some of the highlights of their home city of London.  You take for granted our own privileged lives and being able to give a family a day out they wouldn’t otherwise experience was truly humbling.  The children had never heard of Canary Wharf, the Shard or Tower Bridge.  They had never been on the DLR or a boat.  How lucky I was to get to show them all these things and how amazing London can be.” – Jane Snooks, Fidelity International, Fixed Income Team

The commitment, energy, enthusiasm shown by all those involved at Fidelity, alongside fantastic humour and thoughtful planning has massively improved the lives of both families.   THANK YOU, Fidelity – as these before and after photos show, you absolutely smashed it!    

“It was a privilege to do this and I am soo happy that the families loved their homes, you guys at SHS do an amazing job, so you should also be proud of yourselves. Thank you for letting us get involved and be part of helping these families.” – Leigh Condon, Fidelity International, Equities Team

Mum of two children aged 12 and 11:

I’m in shock when I came in the house yesterday it’s totally different they have done a wonderful job much more than we even dreamed of.  The children are so so happy with their new room. Please tell everyone thank you so much. And We didn’t go to places in London before  we all enjoyed so much going round doing different things we never can do before.  Thank you to everyone who helped us yesterday on the house we are all so shocked about the house.  It feels so wonderful for us now.”

Mum of four children aged 11, 9, 7 and 4:

We really feel so blessed…. we had a wonderful day out, doing things that we have never done before…

We love the house it’s so amazing we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts….

Thank you and the amazing team so much…. xx  

“I would like to thank School-Home Support for providing this opportunity for employees from Fidelity to give back to our community. School-Home Support made possible what initially seemed a pretty big ask… enabling 2 large teams of employees to work together on a team volunteer challenge on the same day!   


Seeing the faces of the two families at the ‘big reveal’ was such a thrill. The two Fidelity teams really engaged in this project from the moment the seed of an idea was planted. They have organised several fundraising events, scoped out plans, shopped with the utmost attention to detail and conducted an awe-inspiring renovation on the two flats. This opportunity has impacted all those involved on so many levels;  inspiring them as individuals, building them as a team, opening our eyes to the need in the communities in which we operate and enabling us to make a difference to the lives of two deserving families. Thank you for the opportunity and we look forward to our continued partnership with School Home Support.”


– Vicki Haxton, Senior Manager Corporate Citizenship  

Watch a video of the challenge below:

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