At Starling, we give every employee 16 paid hours to volunteer at a charity or project of their choice, each year. Here’s how three team members have used their hours and what their plans are for future volunteering. Pictured above clockwise from the left are Hollie, Stephanie and Luke.

Luke, The Princess Project

Last year, Software Engineer Luke spent two days delivering Christmas presents to families seeking support from The Princess Project, a charity that provides toys and essentials for parents and children in Kent. It also offers mental health support.

“It was quite a privilege. I went to the local hubs where the people running the charity had put together Christmas hampers and wrapped gifts. We packed the car with presents and then I made my way down my massive list of names and addresses. It was so nice to see their faces when I arrived. If I’d known what I’d be doing, I would have put on a Santa costume,” he says.

Luke joined Starling in 2019 and this was his first volunteering project. “The opportunity came up because my wife works for The Princess Project. Since having our daughter, the charity’s work has become something that’s much closer to home as it provides support that we know parents need.”

“Volunteering is something where you can spread some cheer and see the effect for yourself. It’s quite powerful, especially if you pick a charity that really means something to you.” Luke plans to volunteer at The Princess Project again this Christmas.

Hollie, Crisis at Christmas, OnHand and Age UK

Our Head of Marketing Planning, Hollie, started volunteering in 2017. “Before Starling, I worked for Cancer Research UK so I saw first hand the difference volunteers can make to an organisation. Lots of places wouldn’t function without them,” she says.

“The main way that I’ve used my 16 Starling hours is volunteering for Crisis at Christmas in the support centres they open over the seasonal period. The centres provide much needed warmth, healthcare, food and company and are an opportunity for people to access specialist support that can lead to lasting, positive change.”

Since joining Starling in 2019, she has volunteered with Crisis three times, twice around Christmas and once during the pandemic. She will be volunteering again this Christmas.

Hollie also helps someone living nearby with their weekly shop through the volunteering app OnHand and provides a home-cooked meal to a neighbour each week through Age UK. Hollie is based in London and organises these two regular commitments around her work at Starling.

Stephanie, Youth Camp and a Christmas Ball

Since joining Starling in 2021, Senior Legal Counsel Stephanie has been able to use her volunteering hours to take a more central role in activities organised through her church in London. “I was one of the main leaders for the youth camp this year. Previously I’ve worked behind the scenes.”

Stephanie’s church is a registered charity and has multiple branches across London, each of which subsidise the summer youth camp. The four day trip took place in the countryside in Kent and included 35 young people, aged 13 to 22, living in and around London.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn and make new friends. For some of them, it may be the only summer ‘holiday’ or break they have.” For the camp, Stephanie helped organise the accommodation, food and staff-led activities, such as archery, plus a quiz night. “It was a really good time,” she says “We are looking at organising a Christmas Ball to get everyone together again.”

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