The Courtiers Social Club was set up in 2016 with two key objectives – getting together and making it matter.
Comprising some 17 Courtiers employees today, all devoting time to organise fund-raising events and activities throughout the year, since its inception the Social Club has raised more than £15,000 for different charities, with the support of Courtiers backing its endeavours.
To date, the Courtiers Social Club has supported the Pituitary Foundation, Crohn’s & Colitis UK, Helen & Douglas House, Cancer Research, the MS Society and Meteor Club Henley.
Supporting charities annually
Since 2016, Courtiers has supported a “Charity of the Year”. Charities are proposed annually by Courtiers employees and often have a personal connection with an employee’s family member or friend. After being picked randomly from the list of charities nominated by employees, this month Thames Valley Adventure Playground was selected as Courtiers’ latest Charity of the Year for 2022/23.
Sue Ruston, Head of HR, who chairs the Social Club’s regular meetings, says that from the start its key purposes have been to bring employees together and raise money for the company charity. “By raising money for a charity each year, we can support good causes and communities close to the hearts of employees and demonstrate our commitment to being a socially responsible employer.”
The most recent charity to benefit from the work of the Social Club is the Pituitary Foundation, the chosen charity for 2021/22. As a small charity with 10 employees supporting people affected by a range of often misunderstood and undiagnosed conditions, the Pituitary Foundation relies entirely on voluntary contributions to meet its operating costs of around £400,000 a year.
At the end of August, Jay Sheppard, Head of Fundraising at The Pituitary Foundation, visited Courtiers in Witney to thank members of the Social Club for their efforts in helping to raise £2,711.82. Matched by Courtiers, the total amount donated to the Pituitary Foundation was £5,423.64.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Social Club and support of employees, the funding we’ve received from Courtiers has been fantastic,” says Jay. “The money could literally be a life saver.”
Jay explains that the charity now has sufficient funding to send the second nurse it hired as a result of the pandemic to a school in North London to provide training to school staff. They now have the skills to give potentially life-saving injections to a young pupil who has a pituitary related condition.
Jay adds that it’s not only the much-needed money raised during the Social Club-inspired and organised activities and events that’s important – being Courtiers’ Charity of the year has helped raise awareness both of the condition, the symptoms of which often go unrecognised, and the charity itself. “Increasing awareness is vital, which is why working with a company like Courtiers has been great for us.”
Emily Welsh, Courtiers Head of Events and Facilities, says raising money is the primary reason why she joined the Social Club in 2019. While “bringing people together socially to do things” is hugely enjoyable, Emily says she finds it particularly rewarding when small charities are the beneficiaries. “You can see it means a lot to them.” A post on the Crohn’s & Colitis UK website, the 2020/21 Charity of the Year, describes the support the charity received from Courtiers as “amazing” and goes on to list some of the imaginative events and activities the Social Club made happen. These include a Star of Hope Christmas decorating competition (which was great fun for employees and their families), a virtual walk around Britain and selling old company phones to Courtiers employees. During the year, other events were organised to coincide with major events such as Wimbledon and the Euros.
As well as the standard raffle ticket and bake-a-cake sales to help raise funds, there’s certainly never a shortage of creative ideas emanating from the Social Club, whether it’s organising space hopper races, having the “resident Easter bunny” deliver Easter eggs, coordinating lucky charm treasure hunts or inviting employees and their families to Christmas Parties, where Santa giving gifts doubles up as an opportunity for a professional family photo.
Beyond raising money for the company charity, Sue says these activities and events are a chance for people to “let their hair down and build relationships with colleagues in other departments.” Emily says she enjoys promoting the Social Club in Henley-on-Thames where she’s based and encouraging others “to do the things they enjoy. The Social Club works well when everyone has a different job to do and everyone pitches in.”
Looking back over its first six years, Sue says the Social Club has achieved a lot and has been “quite successful”. And she is encouraged by three new employees joining recently. “The good thing is new people come with new ideas.”
Inspired and driven by its members and supported by Courtiers colleagues, the Social Club complements the support Courtiers commits to good causes such as the Twin Town Challenge and other regular community initiatives.
It’s fair to say the Courtiers Social Club has become a key part of the culture within the business and as it goes from strength to strength, so too can the various charities and communities that benefit from its support.
Featured in the photo: Social Club members Connor (left), Emily, Ilona, Lisa, Sue (Chair) and Sandie with Pituitary Foundation Head of Fundraising Jay Sheppard (right).