Boots Volunteers Boot Up for Education

Friday, May 28th, 2021

Boots have been a member of BITCI for just under 10 years and were the first retailer to have been awarded the Business working Responsibly Mark in 2013, having since been re-certified in 2015 & 2018.

They first got involved in education programmes with us in 2012, but since then have grown to 8 sites across the county in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Donegal.

Business in the Community IrelandRead on, to hear more from Maeve McNamara, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Boots, about their remarkable journey of growth and impact across the communities they serve, and how this year, being more strategic around material and delivery, delivered programmes showing care for the young students, while reminding them of future possible opportunities for themselves that still exist, despite such a changed world.

Background

“Boots first got involved in the Skills @ Work programme back with 5th year students in 2012 and within several years grew our involvement to eight schools across the country. The World of Work programme was piloted for second year students throughout the academic year 2019 / 2020 and Boots were part of this pilot programme with Collinstown Park Community College.

Based on the positive feedback from the pilot, we have turned our support to the World of Work programme in 8 schools across the country in the academic year 2020 / 2021 with an amazing 188 students taking part in total.

The success of its current iteration is the buy-in from cross functional teams; our Boots Capability Team have helped in both the design, creation of material and delivery and our store colleagues supported the delivery and engagement with the schools. Our colleagues have thoroughly enjoyed showcasing their own stores & functions and roles within them and also connecting with the students and school in a new way.

Adapting for Covid

This year the programme had to be adapted significantly due to Covid and level 5 restrictions, it was delivered via five sessions per school – that’s a total of 40 Boots led sessions, all entirely virtually.

Some students were in the physical classroom when the programme was being delivered with others worked virtually from home, depending on timings during the year.  This was challenging but the material was adapted by our Capability Team to take account of the environment and the methods in which students would be receiving it, i.e. tablets, phones etc.

Instore colleagues, for example, made videos explaining their role using an engaging tone, so as to get close to replicating face to face engagement.  Also, slides were light on text, so as to encourage as much engagement as possible and not focus on reading text. Our store (site) visit was also virtual, involving a forty min session where students could virtually see all the different areas of the Boots store operation, and even completed a pharmacy exercise of dispensing (dummy) medicines – all from their screens!

Because home schooling via virtual classrooms is a challenge for students, a new Resilience session helping support students mental & physical wellbeing was developed, and based on feedback was a resounding success and one which definitely resonated with the students.

Importance to Boots

The World of Work programme is an important programme for Boots and underpins one of our commitments in helping young people to fulfil their potential, linking and helping to build sustainable communities who are at the heart of where we operate and serve.

There are many benefits for us being involved on the programme – increased engagement of employees; helping our staff develop their own skills as well as giving back and supporting young people locally; showing what Boots as an employer looks like with the  students getting an opportunity to see how we operate; plus time out to think ‘could this be me in a few years …?’.  If we can help a young person begin that conversation, then it’s well worth while.  When a student sees the greater connection between their education and their future healthy self, and feels that they have skills that includes them in education, includes them in workforce conversations, includes them in society, we have reached our goals for our participation in the programmes.

We are delighted to partner with BITCI on the Schools Business Partnership programme and combining our expertise in helping to support young people in local communities all across the country.”

For more information on how to get involved with our programmes, click here.