BT is part of the Business Impact Map and the #strongertogether campaign. The interactive map launched recently showcases what companies are doing for their local communities across the country and also shows the collective impact of the network. As we unveil the impact achieved by the participating companies in 2017 we take the opportunity to hear from the volunteers that make this impact a reality.
Richie O’Leary is an IT Business Analyst at BT as part of the #StrongerTogether campaign, Richie shares his experience and thoughts on volunteering.
Tell us about your volunteering experience
I volunteer for several charitable organisations specifically around special needs in children, these include Blossom Ireland, St Michael’s House, Snowflakes and the Raheny All Stars special needs GAA team. I also volunteer for St Francis Hospice..
During my time volunteering with these charities, I have run in mini marathons, walked from Belfast to Dublin, I have done bucket collections at churches, shopping centres etc. I brought a team of people to an centre for adults with special needs and we painted their home, did up their garden, bought flowers and planted them in the garden, and painted the garden furniture and sheds. I also volunteer for St Francis Hospice in Dublin doing outdoor collecting.
For the last 5 years, I have also been one of the shop leads for the BT Shop For Change in aid of the Irish Cancer Society / Mari Curie.
I have also led on the “Ethnicity Day” as part of BT Ireland’s Diversity week for the last 2 years.
For the last 6 years, I have organised a “Diwali” (Hindu festival of lights) celebration in GCP/ Dundrum. We decorate the office in traditional Hindu floral arrangements called “Rangoli”, and we bring in homemade authentic Indian snacks.
I have been a red coat for 7 years during the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.
Why did you decide to take part and volunteer?
My daughter has special needs and I am passionate about trying to help children who have lots of daily challenges to reach their potential and to have opportunities like all children should have.
BT is an amazing company when it comes to supporting young people and we are always encouraged to create a culture of inclusion and diversity. The BTYSTE, Diversity week, and BT Shop for change are great examples where BT Ireland and our people go to great efforts to display those values, and I love being part of those occasions, seeing the difference we make to so many people.
What did you enjoy from the experience?
If I am speaking about volunteering in BT, I love how people come together and just make things happen, the greatest example of that is BT Shop For Change where people go to extraordinary levels to raise thousands for the Irish Cancer Society and Mari Curie. Everyone gets behind and supports colleagues who want to make a difference for others, it is quite unique. Most of the people I know in BT are from events I have been involved in from volunteering.
Speaking about the volunteering outside of BT, I love trying to achieve something that brings opportunities to those less fortunate than most. When I see kids going in to special needs activity camps which are made from volunteering, that makes it all worthwhile.
What would you say to a colleague who hasn’t volunteered before to encourage him/her to give it a go?
Knowing you have given up your own time to do something that made a difference to people who you may not even know, but you know that you played a part in making a difference for a cause, that feeling and sense of pride in what you have done is very hard to beat.
How important is it to you that the company you work for shares your values and facilitates you to undertake volunteering activities as part of your role?
BT’s commitment and genuine interest in the promotion of its people to volunteer, the involvement from the senior management right down through the organisation and to the lengths it goes to foster that culture is one of the main reasons I love to work for BT.