Gaming company Ninja Kiwi joined Social Good Connect in December 2020. With all 32 staff still working from home, they sought ways to keep up employee spirits and provide variety in the working week. Games tester Steve Morrison signed up to the platform, learned about Care and Share Companionship and grabbed the chance to get out of the house!
Ninja Kiwi’s executive VP David Hamilton, who signed up the company to Social Good Connect in November 2020 , explains: “It’s a brilliant, feel-good volunteering initiative that means our team members can take time out on their own terms to help others. Helping others is a real energiser. Everyone has different issues to contend with right now, and volunteering is a great distraction from personal and work challenges.”
“It’s the first time we’ve seen a platform that brings everything together. Being able to filter what kind of role you get matched with by your interests and skills really appealed to us. It makes volunteering accessible and helps people take the first step and narrow down how and where to start. It’s simple but clear and you don’t have to go hunting for anything. It makes it easier to help people in an organised way, not on a whim. It also means we can give staff the time to do something extra-curricular that they want to, on work time. Something a bit different from the day-to-day, because let’s face it, most days feel the same at the moment!”
“In a nutshell, the ethos of Social Good connect fits our feel-good culture. Joining forces helps us express that culture and bring it to life. We care about motivating people and about providing enough variety in their working lives to feel there’s an opportunity somewhere to step away from the norm.”
Video game quality assurance tester Steve has worked at Ninja Kiwi for six years. He recently volunteered through Social Good Connect as a tech-savvy companion to an 80-year old man living alone near Dundee.
“I’d like to have got into volunteering sooner and had been thinking about it, but never quite found the time. I have a young family and so haven’t been lonely myself through the pandemic, but I appreciate how lonely it can be for others at the moment. I did it for two reasons – to help others in tougher situations than me, and to add some variety to my quieter-than-usual life!”
“I said in my profile that I wanted to help elderly or lonely people with by offering companionship, and this match appeared with Care & Share Companionship. 80-year old George lives alone and wanted to be able to use technology to connect with his family using video calls, but he’d never used the internet. He’d also never used WhatsApp, so I installed it on his phone and he picked it up really quickly. I used to work in a phone shop, so I’m used to conversations with people who don’t understand what phones can do or how they work beyond making a phone call.”
“It was a great moment when he received a video call from his daughter for the first time! He’s as sharp as a tack and within no time was even texting her without my help. As well as being able to see the family through video calls, he’s learned about Google and is realising just how useful his phone can be. He loved being able to find a singer he liked on YouTube! He’s also since bought a new phone, so I went back and showed him all over again because everything looked different!”
“It’s been more rewarding and enjoyable than I expected. I’ve been to see him several times and my fiancé says I’m always seem happy when I get home, and it’s true. I rarely leave the house, so to be able to talk to someone new and help them achieve something has been great – it’s nice to be nice!”
Care and Share Companionship is a small Scottish charity providing 1-1 support for over 60s living in isolation and/or loneliness in the Kirkcaldy area. Founder Teresa Naylor needs at least 30 regular volunteers to share their time, whether it’s offering simple face to face or phone companionship chats, vital shopping trips or local areas visits or walks to boost interaction and motivation.
“We’re delighted with Steve’s excellent support. He’s spending regular face-to-face time with someone who lost his partner and his dog last year, and who really welcomes not only the companionship, but the invaluable tech support to help him connect better with his family.”
“Working with Social Good Connect has made a valuable difference. Having Steve on our books has also increased our male volunteers from two to three! Most volunteers tend to be women. Many of the people we support are lonely or isolated elderly men and it can be a real lift to talk to another man when most of the support system tends to be female.”
“If you really enjoy a good conversation and can show empathy, kindness and initiative, then you can help, wherever you work! The most important aspects of being a volunteer is sharing time, listening and building a rapport with people. It’s about looking beyond the wrinkles, the grey hair or disability and tapping into the essence of the person, making make them feel valued and visible. Volunteering is a two-way street. The people who help our elderly friends tell us it’s a rewarding and often surprising experience – they learn a lot from the life stories they hear!”
“Volunteering helps the volunteer as well as the charity. We’re keen to support mental health and help people out of the Covid rut. It influences how they interact with colleagues back at work, perhaps even brings people out of their shell. Through volunteering it’s possible that they’ve stepped out of comfort zone and felt a real sense of accomplishment.W e want to encourage that.”
“Steve shared his experience with our wider team and it gets other people thinking. A second colleague is already busy using his tech expertise to help a different charity with migrating their Facebook pages and once we’ve shared these stories wider, we’re confident that more colleagues will follow suit.”
“Steve plans to take on a second volunteering role for us with an elderly chap who shares admiration for the same football time. We already know it’ll be a great match!”
“We’re now looking for a chairperson and a treasurer for the charity, as well as a minutes secretary for our monthly meetings. I’m the only employee juggling lots of balls, however, eventually I’d like to expand beyond the Kirkcaldy area.”
“We’ve been an active service for two years and it can sometimes be hard to motivate people to volunteer. The volunteers we do have are gold-dust. We always need new avenues of support because you can’t just rely on one stream.”
“I’ll be doing more. I didn’t know employee volunteering was a thing before we signed up. Without the platform I wouldn’t have had the opportunity and this was the trigger I guess I needed. Our workplace culture is very motivating and as well as doing more volunteering, I’m looking forward to returning to the office– my friends think I’m lucky to work there!”
Caroline has made it her life’s work to help people make more meaningful decisions to support their communities and she’s learned some golden nuggets along the way!
So, join Caroline each week for her ‘Thursday Thoughts’ on all things people, planet, philanthropy or purpose all served with sprinkle of fun (but unfortunately no prosecco) to inspire you.