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Being there for people in need
Nora Tong
update on Saturday, May 21, 2011
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The staff club of ANZ Hong Kong has come a long way since organising its initial community services several years ago, consisting mainly of ad hoc activities such as visiting elderly homes during festivals.

"In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Sichuan in 2008, we thought we should go to the quake-hit areas and show the victims that we care," says Hermann Hau, the club's chairman who is manager of corporate and institutional credit risk at the Australian bank.

ANZ Group contributed to the reconstruction of a badly-damaged school in Sichuan. The new building has six classrooms and accommodates up to 300 students.

"We were there in 2009 and last year, spending time with children affected by the disaster, playing games and teaching them things like music and art. I think it is important that we are in contact with the people in need," says Hau.

The idea of long-term engagement has taken a foothold in the community services made available by the club. In the latest initiative, ANZ employees help children from St Christopher's Home - a non-profit group providing residential and after-school care services - learn basic, conversational English through an array of activities.

"We are now revising the programme and considering adding new elements like mentoring. We are also looking to narrow the age range of children taking part in order to cater to their needs more effectively," Hau says.

Staff participation has been part and parcel of ANZ Hong Kong's corporate social responsibility initiatives. For instance, the bank's donation of HK$500,000 to the Child Development Matching Fund - a charity that raises money from the community to support young people - came hand-in-hand with its employees' involvement in a mentorship programme that helps improve the participants' financial literacy.

Susan Yuen, CEO of ANZ Hong Kong, says employees are positive about the company's programmes. "We have fostered a stronger sense of staff engagement and developed a giving and volunteering culture within ANZ."

Yuen says the bank has made a conscious decision to support charities working with children. "We would like to provide opportunities for them, especially the underprivileged, to recognise and unlock their potential." ANZ Hong Kong has recently announced its exclusive sponsorship of the first and only Koala Exhibit at the Ocean Park, which will entail support for various educational and conservation projects. Just last week, about 50 ANZ staff and 30 children from St Christopher's Home spent a day at Ocean Park where they learned about the environment and conservation.

For Hau, the challenge of staff volunteering lies in finding time to organise activities and devising ways to mobilise colleagues.

"We invite the spouses and children of staff members to our activities [so that] they can spend time with their family, while children also learn about volunteering. Many people are kind-hearted and want to help others. The key is to know how to encourage and enable them to do so."


Love in action  

  • Raised funds for the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children by selling raffle tickets at ANZ's Lunar New Year dinner
  • Partnered with Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong in the production of its 2011 calendar
  • Organised a cable car ride to Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, for children at St Christopher's Home

 

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