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20 March 2017. The Grand Final of the TMT Predictions Schools Challenge 2017; an initiative created to ‘plug the skills gap’ for clients who report challenges in engaging young people with the skills and interest to pursue careers in the Technology, Media or Telecommunications (TMT) sectors. Milton Keynes Academy had been given the topic of Biometrics and were tasked with presenting a relevant, innovative use for the technology. Myself, along with two colleagues, Deane Copson and Michael Garz, were first time coaches for the school, who had now reached the finals for the third year in succession. The competition was tough, but we were confident that our and MK Academy’s revolutionary concept, “BioBuddi”, would catch the attention of the judges.
When former BP Chief Executive Lord Browne, one of the earliest proponents of corporate social responsibility (CSR), declared last year that the movement was “dead”, he was not alone in his cynicism. Such has been the worrying regularity of corporate scandals that the idea of business putting purpose or society before profit had for some time been attracting a large dose of suspicion. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that it is the emergence of more controversy – this time in the charitable sector – that has prompted a reassessment of how important the contribution of business can be to society.
Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions Schools Challenge 2016: An exciting vision for the future!
There is a rich and fascinating history that stems from Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM); one that has been pioneered by some of the greatest and most creative minds, including Stephen Hawkins, Tim Berners-Lee and Ada Lovelace.
But despite the feats accomplished in these fields, we know that too few young people are pursuing an active interest in these subjects, with massive implications on their attainment and the opportunities available to them in the future. This is especially true amongst pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, with fifty eight per cent of those eligible for free school meals in 2011 failing to achieve a maths GCSE grade at A*-C (Skills Commission, 2011).
Deloitte are long-standing supporters of disability sport. Since 2007, through our partnership with the British Paralympic Association (BPA), we have helped prepare hundreds of athletes for four Paralympic Games, each one inspiring young disabled people to find a sport that suits them through our Deloitte Parasport portal.
Hidden gems at the Home of Christmas Shopping
Early November saw Kensington Olympia come alive with all things magical and festive for the annual Spirit of Christmas fair. This ‘home of Christmas shopping’ in association with House & Gardens played host to hundreds of exhibitors selling everything from champagne and jewellery to holidays and garden design.
Where we come from is an important part of our identities, however it should not define or limit our aspirations. I was reminded of this while at Moseley School in Birmingham last week, where 40% of the 1,400 students are eligible for free school meals. The importance of social mobility at the school cannot be under-estimated in light of the uncomfortable fact that across the UK, children receiving free school meals achieve 1.7 grades lower at GCSE (source: Child Poverty Action Group). Social mobility is a complex issue, but last week we demonstrated our commitment to playing our part in addressing it through Social Mobility Week and some other commitments.
Last month I was lucky enough to be one of the 44 participants chosen to take part in a challenge of a lifetime climbing Mt. Cotopaxi, a 5,897m high ice capped active volcano in Ecuador all to raise funds and awareness for our 3 Charity Partners: Alzheimer’s Society, Mind, and Prostate Cancer UK.
Of course the instinct to protect my children comes first, but the thought of any child, anywhere, living in a rubbish dump, sickens me. I believe everyone feels this way, parents especially. I was out shopping for my son’s baby clothes and thought to myself: if I could buy beautiful baby clothes and know the profit helps children in need, why would I buy anywhere else? Because I couldn’t find a way, I set up From Babies with Love.
On 17 June, the first group of Deloitte staff set off on the challenge of a lifetime. Deloitte’s Charity Challenge 2015 sees 246 Deloitte staff, including 24 partners, undertake four challenges across four continents in an effort to raise £1 million for our charity partners Alzheimer’s Society, Mind and Prostate Cancer UK. They will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Cotopaxi and Mulhacén in Spain as well as a triathlon style jungle trek, mountain bike and white water rafting activity in Borneo. This is largest fundraiser we have ever attempted!
I have been involved with this project from its inception over 2 years ago, alongside our partner sponsor and the Head of Corporate Responsibility, so I have mixed emotions now that it is all finally underway. As the Charitable Giving lead at Deloitte, I work directly with our charity partners and have developed a strong relationship with them all. I have a personal connection with two of the charities which means that my passion to raise awareness and funds is more than just about it being my job.
There’s a quiet revolution taking place in our country - the way in which we think and talk about mental health. In homes, communities and workplaces, more and more people are being open about their experiences, and there is a growing level of awareness amongst employers, civil servants and politicians that this issue affects one in four of us.
At Mind, we have been playing a vital role in working with many organisations. With the support of Business in the Community, many businesses have now signed the Time to Change pledge and hundreds of thousands of people took part in the Time to Talk Day in February. We have ambitions to turn the growing awareness of mental health into action and it is through partnerships with highly effective businesses such as Deloitte that we believe we can make the most of this rare opportunity.