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COVID-19 risks to subsistence are real - but Futuregrowth steps up to the plate with a COVID Solidarity Initiative

12 Aug 2020

We're in this together

As a collective, Futuregrowth has been able to make donations to 16 organisations, covering food relief, medical and other equipment, clothing, data, and care packs, amongst others.

We’re in this together.
Extraordinary times require an extraordinary response. Our people and partners have responded by dedicating time and resources to various initiatives. This is how our business and staff have stepped up collectively during the COVID-19 crisis.

The abrupt national lockdown in March left many without food or other resources that they relied on to get through the day. Futuregrowth MD Paul Rackstraw summed up the situation at the time: “All our lives have been impacted by COVID-19, but we are aware that the national lock-down has impacted others in very direct and difficult ways. While we remain employed millions of our compatriots are currently out of work, and tens of thousands of businesses are shut down and in danger of failure.

“It is very likely that each Futuregrowth team member is already making some contribution to support others – making charitable contributions, providing income to the people who normally support us, paying full school fees so that teachers continue to earn income, supporting family and friends, gifting food and goods, and the like. We’ve seen various initiatives and outpouring of good will, and, in light of the lengthy lockdown period, it is suitable for Futuregrowth to facilitate additional contributions to support others in need during this unprecedented crisis.”

And so, the Futuregrowth COVID Solidarity Initiative was born - in April 2020. A number of processes were put in place to make contributions and donations as easy as possible for staff. This included salary deductions and leave commutation for the purpose of COVID support. Moreover, the business matched a portion of staff contributions, in order to supplement the amount of money donated to the designated causes.

The Futuregrowth CSI Committee, being duly experienced in these matters, was tasked with vetting the beneficiaries and managing the disbursement of the funds. It was also given the go ahead to expend the total 2020 socio-economic development (CSI) budget on community support and/or COVID-related relief, with immediate effect.

The Committee has been working diligently to disburse the funds to bona-fide organisations that will deploy the money effectively and ethically. To date, donations to the value of more than R350 000 have been made to 16 organisations, covering food relief, medical and other equipment, clothing, data, and care packs, amongst others. Staff went out of their way to find pockets of real need, where specific help and support could make a material difference.

The response to these contributions has been truly humbling.

No child left behind

The small gesture of donating the (now empty) office coffee area supplies – together with lemons from CSI Committee member Edwina’s tree - to the 9Miles Project elicited this feedback:

“A big THANK YOU to you from our 9Miles Team to you for your donation of milk (and the lemons from your tree)!  We value your support towards our Project. Every contribution and act of kindness is so meaningful and we are grateful for yours. As a supporter of our Covid relief efforts, I just wanted to let you know that with your help, we have served more than 62 000 meals since lockdown started. Thank you once again for partnering with us to build stronger, and more resilient families and communities.”  Nigel Savel – Founder.

Believing that ‘no child should be left behind and no community left untouched’ - and using surfing as a catalyst - this project started in 2013. It now provides life skills and leadership training to at-risk youth in coastal informal settlements around Cape Town, Elands Bay and St Francis Bay. The organisation has leveraged off this to provide support and hunger relief during the lockdown, and a further cash donation was made to help them in their endeavours. For a behind-the-scenes look at their efforts, watch this short video.

New life during COVID

Via the Zoe Project, and with the aim to assist at least 100 newborn babies, items were purchased and made into care packs for distribution at local hospitals to mothers and babies in need. The Zoe Project team sent their heartfelt thanks, adding that it was a rare treat to have brand new items.

“We were blown away last Monday when we met (CSI Committee member) Margot and the trolleys of brand new baby items came wheeling out! Thank you for your very generous donation. These items will be distributed in our Care Packs to moms in need. I know these mothers will be so proud to take home their newborns in such beautiful outfits! On behalf of these moms and The Zoe Project, a very gracious THANK YOU.”  Tracey Aitken – Founder.

Tracy started the project at the Retreat Maternity and Obstetrics Unit in 1998. She became aware of the desperate need for support of the mothers coming to the unit and she started making up essential packs for them and their babies. The first young pregnant girl she counselled (who came from an abusive relationship and broken family) named her baby Zoe, which means ‘life’, which gave the project its name. You can hear the story here.

Township theatre that feeds body and soul

The Kasi RC - Shack Art School & Theatre is, in the words of CSI Committee member, Thina, “another great example of the spirit of Ubuntu in action, during what has probably been the toughest time for many families in Khayelitsha and across the country”.

This centre for theatre and the arts provides an essential platform for creative expression and development where there is little to offer hope and inspiration. Ever responsive to the needs of the community, it turned its theatre into a soup kitchen soon after the lockdown started. While queuing for food, the recipients’ spirits are lifted with music and movement. The Futuregrowth donation went towards sound equipment and food for the soup kitchen.

In May, founder Mandisi Sindo reported that they had already served cooked food to more than 3 000 people, provided medication to the elderly, given out close to 650 food parcels and bought electricity for 113 homes. “We couldn't do this on our own. We are grateful to have friends, caring family members, leaders and people who are just willing to help where they can. Thanks to each and everyone who has contributed to our theatre and the kitchen. Together we can change the lives of those who are hopeless. Not only now but forever.” 

For a glimpse of their spirit, go to www.beautifulnews.com.

Time to shine: providing for and learning from those with physical disabilities

At the Turfhall Cheshire Home, our donation of masks, gloves, sanitizer, linen savers, nappies and plasters, that were urgently required due to the pandemic, was “a huge boost reducing our medical expenses in these challenging times” according to Helen Campbell, Head of Marketing at the home.

“Thank you for your invaluable support! Please extend our sincere appreciation to all the staff members at Futuregrowth who contributed to this generous donation. Stay safe and we look forward to welcoming you to our Home when the national lockdown ends.”

The home, in Hanover Park, opened in 1984 and provides 24-hour specialised care and accommodation to 68 vulnerable disabled adults. Many of these residents have had to deal with their own form of physical lockdown, and have had to find a new way of being – a reminder that we can learn some valuable lessons from each other during these times.

You can’t teach a hungry child

Donations for food relief have also been made to:

  • the South African Improved Learning Initiative (SAILI), which gives high school scholarships to financially disadvantaged students who are talented in Maths and Science;
  • the Peninsula School Feeding Scheme, that serves schools in the Western Cape that do not qualify for the Government’s National School Nutrition Programme subsidy, but where the need exists; and
  • the Healing Heart Foundation, which nurtures children aged 4 to 12 in marginalised communities.

In addition, laptops were donated to Compass Trust for their Vrygrond Computer Lab, and funding towards food and data was given to the TSIBA Chairperson's Fund, initiated by TSIBA Board Chairperson, Professor Fatima Abrahams, for extraordinary support to TSIBA students during the current crisis. As a Private Higher Education Institution, TSIBA does not qualify for the free, or reverse-charge data offered by some providers to the public-funded universities in South Africa, even though they are registered as a not-for-profit entity.

Graham Moore, TSIBA Marketing Executive, reported that the additional funding received from Futuregrowth (and other partners) had enabled them “to continue to engage with our students, support them, and pivot to remote learning with high levels of success”.

Just over 90% of BBA degree students were able to write their first semester examinations. “This really would not have been possible without your extraordinary care and support - and for this we are incredibly grateful. Our collaboration with our partners has effectively kept our students in their studies and mitigated against the potential catastrophe of losing them from TSIBA, many of whom would never have recovered.”

The final word goes to one of the TSIBA students, who wrote: “To everyone that assisted in making these funds available to help us not just academically but personally too, I thank you. In this tough time TSIBA has been able to show that every student matters and that the institution has our back. Yours thankfully and gratefully.”  Jennifer M.

Some small but special support for seniors

Cozy, colourful tracksuits for 26 seniors were donated to Peace Haven, a project in the poorer part of Belhar, in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. These seniors have to find their way to the centre, where they are provided with a daily meal, exercise programmes, crafts and, most importantly, physiotherapy. The tracksuits, while keeping them warm, will also serve to make the seniors recognisable to neighbours when they walk to and from the centre, encouraging them to stop to give them a lift.

Shining a spotlight on the forgotten

Much has been said about the way in which the pandemic has exposed the inequalities and vulnerabilities in our society. With this in mind, medical and protective equipment were donated to several organisations, including the SA Medical and Education (SAME) Foundation (for use in Khayelitsha), Die Eiland Huis vir Gestremdes (an NGO in St Helena Bay on the West Coast that works with physically challenged children), the Langa Cheshire Home,  and U-Turn (an NPO that supports the homeless).

The devastating consequences of the coronavirus were brought into stark relief when a Cape Town teenager lost both her parents, Barry and Heidi Volkwijn, within hours of each other to the virus in June. Heidi was a motivational speaker and manager of services for youth and adults at the League of Friends of the Blind, to which we had donated care packages. Not long before, Heidi had spoken on the radio about the necessity for blind people to use their hands to navigate through the world and how that could put them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“It's those who are invisible in society who are often not taken care of” said Dr Armand Bam, Executive director of the League of Friends of the Blind in his tribute to Heidi and Barry.

We hope that, in some small way, our contributions have helped to make these communities and individuals feel less invisible, especially at this time.

FUTUREGROWTH COVID SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE AT A GLANCE

It was immediately clear that the corona pandemic required a broad response – both from essential sectors like ours and everyone else who was in a position to help. To this end, the Futuregrowth COVID Solidarity Initiative has been implemented, guided, as always, by our ethos of corporate responsibility and community care. In terms of this:

  • Staff can voluntarily donate any portion of their salary or leave pay to a COVID-19 relief initiative of their choice via company systems.
  • The business is contributing a further 25% of the value of the staff donations to the Futuregrowth CSI Committee.
  • The Futuregrowth CSI Committee has been authorised to disburse these funds, together with its entire 2020 budget, to bona fide causes in need over this period.


For further information on these projects and organisations:

  1. 9milesproject.org
  2. thezoeproject.co.za
  3. facebook.com/KhayelitshaArtSchool
  4. turfhall.org.za
  5. saili.org.za
  6. psfa.org.za
  7. thehealingheartfoundation.org
  8. thecompasstrust.com
  9. tsiba.ac.za/launch-of-the-tsiba-chairpersons-fund
  10. samefoundation.org.za
  11. facebook.com/pages/category/Nonprofit-Organization/Langa-Cheshire-Home-297799850587464
  12. homeless.org.za
  13. lofob.org.za

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