Every month, Octopus recognises colleagues who’ve done great things by volunteering for charity. March’s award went to Charlotte Kendon and Aoife Maher, both Business Development Managers for Octopus Investments. Charlotte and Aoife get £500 each to donate to a charity close to their hearts.
Why did you decide to start volunteering?
Aoife: I volunteered at secondary school and university through the Duke of Edinburgh programme. But this is the first time I’ve volunteered at work. At Octopus, we’re encouraged to support charities however we can. So, with Charlotte and I being a bit of a double-act in the office, we started thinking about how we could help.
Charlotte: We knew we wanted to raise money for Downright Excellent, which is a London-based charity that helps children with Down syndrome develop their life skills and make the most of their potential. With Pancake Day just around the corner, everything fell into place. Thankfully, making pancakes was more fun than when I did Tough Mudder to raise money for cancer research.
Why did you choose Downright Excellent?
Charlotte: Downright Excellent is one of our charity partners at Octopus, so that’s how Aoife and I heard about the amazing work they do to make life better for children – and their families too.
Aoife: After Downright Excellent gave a talk in our office, we could see they had the same difficulties as a lot of other charities. They’re underfunded, and they don’t get enough publicity. We decided to do what we could to help out.
What did you do to earn the Volunteer of the Month award?
Charlotte: At Octopus, we love food and we love helping charity. So, Aoife and I put two and two together, and came up with a Pancake Day charity drive.
We thought it was a nice way to raise money for a fantastic charity, and fill our hungry tummies too. We mentioned the plan to our managers, and they were more than happy to support us.
Aoife: A week before Pancake Day, we emailed everyone on our floor about the gorgeous pancakes we’d be serving. We got lots of preorders, so we like to think that puns like “Holy Crepes! It’s Pancake Day” caught people’s attention.
On the day, Charlotte and I set out a big spread of toppings so everyone could make their pancakes exactly as they wanted.
Charlotte: It turns out that people really like pancakes at Octopus. We sold between 80 and 90 in just two hours, raising a total of £680 for Downright Excellent.
Aoife: Our pancakes were so popular we thought we were going to run short. In the end, we got more goodies in – we might not have raised as much if we’d run out.
What was the most memorable moment from your volunteering?
Charlotte: Considering that we’re the least tech-savvy people on the planet, I was impressed that we managed to take card payments for the pancakes.
Aoife: Seeing everyone devouring our pancakes was definitely a highlight.
Have you decided where your £500 donations will go?
Charlotte: I asked for my £500 donation to go to Marie Curie in Hampstead. They helped my Mum a lot when she was unwell, so I couldn’t wait to give them the money. I’m looking forward to visiting them again – this time, on a happy note.
Aoife: I donated my £500 to Debra. They’re a national charity that supports people affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa, which is a serious skin deficiency disorder. Debra doesn’t get much publicity or funding, so I knew the money would make a big difference there.
And finally… what’s your message for anyone who hasn’t volunteered before?
Charlotte: Definitely to get out there and just go for it. When you’re working in a fast-paced job, it’s easy to forget about the bigger picture. But there are just so many things you can do for the wider community, and it’s good for your soul too.
Aoife: The great thing about working at Octopus is that there are so many opportunities to help. And there’s support available when you need it. People here are very happy to get involved when they know it’s for a worthwhile cause. You just need to make the most of the opportunity.