Although we are a global company, we have a devolved and decentralised strategy that supports our commitment to integrating into the communities in which we operate. We do this though the employment of local people when we can; providing training opportunities and work experience; or by using local suppliers where it is possible to do so.
Our commitment is underlined by our pledge to invest 1% of our pre-tax profits into the wider society. Last year, this meant £2,532,175 was invested
Our commitment is underlined by our pledge to invest 1% of our pre-tax profits into the wider society. Last year, this meant £2,532,175 was invested through donations to community projects and charities, as well as the donation of assets and time.
In 2011, we pledged to create 1,000 work placements for young people and 500 apprenticeships across Serco within the UK. We are also looking at ways of supporting disadvantaged young people aged between 11 and 19, by giving them access to opportunities that will help them find employment. These training projects currently exist at Serco contracts include Volkswagen, Harborough Leisure Centre and some of the hospitals where we work, with the intention of expanding the scheme during 2012.
We also believe in giving people paid time off to make a difference to their local communities. For example, our people based at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra, Italy have been giving their time to the local hospital's children's ward. Each employee is given a day each month for volunteering.
Our aim is to have a positive and lasting impact on our communities. Although we are often contracted to 'deliver social outcomes' through our business operations, we pride ourselves on how we deliver these and the encouragement our company values give to our employees in being able to make that difference. Our results in the 2011 Business in the Community (BitC) Corporate Responsibility Index reflected our company-wide approach. Rated Gold for the sixth year running, in what is the UK's leading benchmark of corporate responsibility, our community investment (benefits and impact) were rated 100% across all five areas that were measured. Whilst we are delighted in being recognised in this way, we continue to strive to improve on what we do and to find new ways of making a positive difference.
Serco's Work Programme, for example, is an innovative approach to helping the long-term jobless into sustainable employment - transforming the lives of these individuals, their families and their communities. Serco's partners include a network of the very best local and national welfare-to-work organisations, almost half of them from the voluntary sector. The numbers that have been helped back into work are substantially ahead of expectations; this is a public service we are very proud of, enabling individuals to realise their full potential and effect lasting positive change. We also work with former offenders, helping them to access back-to-work support including top-up training, skills for life courses, work placements and improved interview skills. And when participants find employment, they receive ongoing support and advice to help them remain in their new roles and to maintain a stable, healthy, law-abiding lives.
Creating positive change for those in need lay behind Serco's decision to locate a new business processing centre in one of the UK's most deprived communities. More than half of working-age people in Rhyl, north Wales, are in receipt of benefits, and the coastal town is blighted by dereliction and impoverishment. The new facility was created in strategic partnership with the Welsh Assembly, Denbighshire County Council and others such as Rhyl City Strategy and Jobcentre Plus; it now employs many local people, several of whom have been offered roles in Serco and our example is attracting other investment. The local authority and Welsh Assembly have since bought houses here with the aim of building on our initiative and turning the street into an in-town business park.
Support for our communities is illustrated through an array of small and large contributions across the Group. Our employees engage in many different activities, as individuals or as part of the wider Serco community.
At HM Prison Lowdham Grange in the UK, staff are allocated a half-day fortnightly to volunteer at a range of community projects. Schemes include supporting homeless charity Framework by providing manpower to decorate and improve accommodation. Prison staff are also working with the Prince's Trust charity, where they are trained to mentor vulnerable young people to help them back into education or training.
The Serco Pulse Awards were established in 2007 to celebrate those workers who "go the extra mile" to make significant, selfless contributions to charitable or community organisations, the environment and the communities we serve. Leila Tavakoli, of Serco Strategic Programs in Virginia, USA, received her award in 2011 for her tireless efforts on behalf of the disadvantaged children of the Dominican Republic. She single-handedly established an educational programme for them, raised the money to buy everything from books and computers to food and clothes, tailored curricula to the children's needs - and flies to the Republic occasionally to ensure they are well cared for! Such has been the success of Leila's project, she has been invited to meet the Dominican Education Secretary to discuss reproducing it on a larger scale.
In the UK, a Pulse Award went to a team from Serco's defence business at RAF Oakhanger; dubbing themselves 'The Space Crew', they support Surrey-based charity Change of Scene, which offers disadvantaged children the chance to enjoy the countryside. Four colleagues gave their time to build a footbridge to improve access at the site and a cage to protect the children's vegetable patches from deer. Their £500 Pulse Award charity donation prize money (along with £500 matched funding from the contract) was ploughed straight back into the charity.
In the US, Serco Americas' sponsorship of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) has gone from strength to strength. This charity provides systematic help to the U.S. Armed Forces children and supports families, schools and communities in welcoming those children who are adversely affected by constant relocation and separation from deployed parents. Serco volunteers are encouraged to participate in this good work, while they in turn develop vital leadership and communication skills. For 2012, the plan is to strengthen this partnership further by extending the reach of the MCEC to the UK.
In Australia, our people at Villawood IDC, donated children's Christmas presents to the Lions Club, which were then distributed to families in need. We also donated food to the Chester Hill Community Centre and plan to support both these organisations again in the future.
A global family
But it's not just close neighbours that benefit from donations. In times of need, our employees offer support on a global scale. In this way, five dwellings built to re-house victims of the Pakistan floods - and funded with donations from Serco employees across the Middle East - were completed in 2011. Another fundraising drive is underway for victims of last year's floods in Thailand, and donations of money, time and gifts, such as food and other essential items, were provided following the floods in Australia.
More recently, we helped during and in aftermath of MV Tycoon in Australia. On the day of the severe weather, our people made sure all the vehicles and stores were at the right place at the right time and provided co-ordinated support plus hot drinks and meals. When a major oil spill became apparent, Serco and DIAC people volunteered to help with the clean-up.
Meanwhile, Serco's National Nuclear Lab (NNL) provided support to the UK government on what the implications were following the failures at the nuclear plant in Fukushima in March 2011. The NNL's Keith Franklin moved to Japan at very short notice and, once there, helped push plans forward at a rapid rate. Keith's contribution means he is now seen as a highly effective ambassador for the nuclear industry and the UK in general. He provided much needed expertise at a crucial moment for Japan.
Separately, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), run by Serco, loaned eight radiation dosimeters to Heathrow Travel-Care, a charity that helped repatriate those affected by the earthquake and tsunami and had great concerns about the safety of staff working with those travelling from the contaminated area. The NPL supplied these highly specialised radiation meters at short notice, plus advice on the likely risks to staff, so enabling them to stay safe while helping those in acute need.