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Year after year, Friends First staff continue to volunteer to dedicate their time to worthwhile initiatives such as the Friends First Schools Programme. Speaking about this year’s programme, Conal Brennan, the community CSR co-ordinator in Friends First commended the volunteers and initiatives saying “This is the fifth year that Friends First has worked with the local schools as part of our overall CSR Programme and our volunteer numbers have increased again. Our volunteers give the students a flavour of what it is like to work in the various roles that an Insurance Company offers and how working in an office is a viable career option.”
Friends First works with 2 local schools to provide support in the form of skill sharing and donations. The schools programme initiatives have been growing and developing each year to enable a growing number of Friends First staff to volunteer and skill share. As part of the overall schools programme for 2017/8 there are two noteworthy initiatives which stand out:
Time to read is a literacy programme that sees Friends First volunteers spend quality time each week assisting 7 and 8 year old pupils from St. Colmcilles National School in Loughlinstown with their reading. The programme also included a trip to the Gaiety Christmas Pantomime for all of the 2nd class students and site visits to the Friends First office and Lexicon Library in Dun Laoghaire. This semester 12 volunteers spent over 120 hours with the students developing their love for reading.
Skills @ Work is a career development programme for 5th year students of St Laurence’s College. On February 21st 18 5th year pupils visited the Friends First office. During their visit the students met staff who volunteered to talk about their careers and show them what their day-to-day work entails. Later in the school term, the students will return to the Friends First office and be given guidance and coaching on CV preparation and interview technique. Practice interviews will be carried out with the students to improve their interview skills and prepare them for real job interviews.
As part of our overall CSR programme we are dedicated to ensuring we have a positive impact on the community in which we operate. The volunteer staff really enjoy ‘giving back’ to the local community. As an employer invested in the development of our staff, the feedback we have received from participants of the schools programme to date has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The students enthusiasm was particularly rewarding – Adam’s eyes lit up when reading about dinosaurs and then I knew I was onto a winner. The energy levels and smiles of the children are infectious.”
“The Time to Read programme has been such an amazing experience. Seeing the improvement of the children’s reading ability is hugely rewarding. Personally, I enjoy seeing how eager they are to read a new book every week. I feel we are helping to develop their love for reading and the children have helped me to further develop my listening and comprehension skills – which have come in handy at home with my own child!”
“It was great to speak to the 5th year students from St. Laurence’s College. Some knew exactly what they wanted to go on and do in terms of a future career and others were still figuring out their interests. It can be a daunting time for teens so I was delighted to impart some advice based on my own experiences. Hopefully it will give them an idea of what to expect when choosing a career path.”
“It was a brilliant experience speaking to students from St. Laurence’s and showing them what I do within the marketing team. The students were very interested and eager to learn what it is like working in the financial industry. Some of the students knew what they want to do when they leave school and others weren’t sure but it was great finding out their interests and answering their questions regarding what it is like working in an office. I was delighted to be involved with the programme and think it is a truly great experience for the students.”