A bank shouldn’t just be a place to keep money, it should be at the heart of its community.
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From supporting local businesses to funding good causes, banks can make a real difference to people’s lives.
That’s the ethos that has seen Royal Bank of Scotland staff reach out to charities in Dundee.
Dundee branch manager Katie Fuchs leads a team that works with Dundee Bairns, helping to provide meals and clothing for kids living in poverty in the city.
Meanwhile, senior relationship manager Kenny Walker has drawn in support from the bank for Eagles Wings, a charity he’s involved with that provides food, hot drinks, social interaction and support for those in need and experiencing homeless.
Speaking to them, it’s easy to see the passion they have for the work and the inspiration they have drawn from it personally.
The joy of helping Dundee Bairns
Royal Bank of Scotland’s collaboration with Dundee Bairns began in January 2022, as they were the obvious choice for the branch colleagues to benefit from its Cost of Living Fund
Katie, who also manages both Dundee Chief Office and Dundee Kingsway branches, said: “We have regional collaboration hubs at the Bank to help us understand the issues and the activities taking place in the communities which we serve.
“Dundee Bairns’ project manager Genna Miller presented to us and you could have heard a pin drop as she told us about all the work that they do. As soon she left we all looked at each other – we knew this was a charity we wanted to support, either by volunteering or donations.”
The collaboration has seen Royal Bank donate £10,000 to the charity. But, just as importantly, colleagues have themselves become heavily involved in its work. In total around 30 employees have pitched in, helping to deliver 27,000 meals over the summer holidays and raising an extra £13,000.
Katie said: “It is easy to say you will help but we’re lucky at the bank as we are given time to volunteer and support groups and charities that mean something to us. Without the volunteers, Dundee Bairns can’t deliver their programme. What they do is crucial -for some children it might be the only meal that they get that day.”
While Dundee Bairns gets much-needed funds and support to deliver its service, the team at Royal Bank get the satisfaction of knowing they’re involved with something truly worthwhile. Colleagues enjoy supporting the charity as it provides grocery supplies to local primary schools and offers clothing grants and daily meals to children across the city who need a helping hand.
Katie added: “The support Dundee Bairns provides is so far reaching and knowing that we’ve actually made a difference to young kids in our local community, it doesn’t get much better than that for us.”
Looking forward, their work together is set to continue with staff already making plans to raise more funds for the charity and support its various initiatives.
Genna Millar said: “We are incredibly grateful for the generous and heartfelt support that the staff at Royal Bank of Scotland have given to our charity. It’s crucial that we work together to tackle child poverty in the city, and the team at Royal Bank are an amazing example of how people can make a real difference in their communities. We want to pass on our sincerest thanks to everyone at Royal Bank for their energy, motivation and support – we value our friendship with them all and are so proud to have them on board.”
Wing and a prayer: supporting the charity’s vital aid
Royal Bank has supported a number of charities through its Cost of Living programmes and projects such as the Power of a Helping Hand Fund. The Bank is donating £2,500 to Eagles Wings Trust.
The money has helped fund the charity’s work which includes lunchtime drop-in sessions at a unit in the centre of Dundee for people experiencing challenges such as homelessness, mental health issues and addiction. It also has a van which hands out food parcels from Monday to Thursday.
Royal Bank colleague Kenny Walker, who is a volunteer and trustee of the charity, put it forward for support and for him the work has been a true labour of love.
He explained: “I’m a volunteer for Eagles Wings and it’s really rewarding. By building relationships with those on the streets you get to understand the challenges they’re facing and be able to direct them to the right support or provide assistance. Some people come to the soup kitchen van at night and they say, ‘you’re the first people I’ve spoken to all day.’ Some of them just come for a chat and a cup of coffee.”
Rise in demand
It’s also clear to Kenny that the current cost-of-living crisis means the support is more vital than ever.
He continued: “Since the beginning of the year, it’s become busier and busier and the mix of people has changed. Just this week, there were probably up to 50 people per night that have turned up looking for support.
“The cost of living is causing a challenge.”
Eagles Wings relies on donations and the level of demand means they need support more than ever. Kenny said Royal Bank has been hugely supportive, allowing him time off to volunteer, as well as providing funds. He’s also been inspired by the generosity of the Dundee community with prominent local businesses pitching in to help and there have been many other more surprising forms of support.
Michael Cordiner, Director of Outreach, Eagles Wings said: We are so grateful for the incredibly generous donation of £2,500 from the Royal Bank of Scotland. We are a small charity and, like everyone, our costs have been increasing over recent months. This money will make a huge difference and allow us to continue serving those in need in Dundee through our soup kitchen and daytime drop in.”