29 April 2018

Russell Feingold UKFast - community and charity

Our latest recruit – Russell Feingold, director of CSR and fundraising.

I often say that you cross paths with people for a reason. More often than not you don’t know what that reason is until much later.

I met a man called Russell Feingold through our work with Cash for Kids. For many years we supported the Key 103 charity through Superhero Day and Mission Christmas campaigns.

It was an amazing experience in the early years and we loved being a part of it! So many of the team volunteered to help sort toys at the Mission Christmas warehouse. It was a fabulous team-building event, as well as being hugely worthwhile! The annual campaign encourages the region to buy an extra toy with their Christmas shopping. They then donate this to the one in three children living in poverty in Greater Manchester.

There are no words to describe the generosity that we saw supporting those campaigns. More than a million pounds worth of toys were donated each year, and we saw exactly where they went to.

In truth, these campaigns really opened up our eyes to a very saddening situation on our doorstep here in Greater Manchester. 

The real value

I’d personally realised the extraordinary value of going that extra step to help others some years earlier after rolling up my sleeves and getting the wheelbarrow out. We had started a project building a sensory house for a young disabled boy called Harvey. His parents had built a sensory room to surprise him only for it to be burnt down on Christmas Eve. Since then we have been committed to improving the lives of young people in our region and beyond. It’s a commitment we’ve kept for more than a decade. Working with Russell and seeing his passion for helping others less fortunate without doubt inspired us to continue and expand our work. 

Nowadays our team does a great deal in education to inspire local kids and even teachers. Our goal is to help them make the curriculum exciting and current. By working with nearly 60 schools we are able to influence and help over 60,000 young people across Greater Manchester. And these numbers are set to grow. I believe the future of our country depends on the next generation of children.  If they’re not getting the education and support needed to thrive in the modern workplace, we only slow down our progress in all aspects of industry, and essentially life too.

By helping create workshops, Code Clubs, masterclasses and work experience, the difference we can make to peoples lives, kids and parents alike is significant. We now have first-hand experience of this. Whilst it’s not something we profit from financially, we are all richer for it in other ways.

Teachers and schools are doing an incredible job with the resources that they have, but sadly there are simply not enough resources.

We kept in touch with Russell and when one of my team mentioned he was coming in to visit, I knew that this was an opportunity not to miss.

A special announcement

Some of the UKFast team's friends and family at the Avengers screening.

Some of the UKFast team’s friends and family at the Avengers screening.

So this week we held a friends and family event at the local cinema. The whole company was packed in to the room to watch the latest Avengers film. As usual with these events, I stand up to announce any good news we have before the film starts. I was particularly proud to announce on this occasion that Russell is now a fellow teammate. He joins us as UKFast’s first Director of CSR and Fundraising.

Having a dedicated person committed to helping drive our projects in the community is a huge achievement. Especially so when you consider 13 years ago there were just 15 of us struggling to get UKFast up and running.

Whilst we work in a world where many businesses do their level best to avoid tax and hide money offshore, there is no point ignoring significant problems closer to home.

From a tiny two-person team in a spare bedroom of my flat in Oxford Road, to a 400-strong team in our Campus HQ I’d like to think we’ve always done what we can to give back. Nowadays we are in a significantly stronger position to help others. It’s essential we step our initiatives up to reflect this and say thank you to the community.

So what’s our plan in the community?

There are always thousands of causes that need people’s help. It is difficult at times working out where we should focus our attention as sadly we can’t help every good cause. With rising numbers of disadvantaged children and young people across Greater Manchester, this is an area that needs sorting, right now.

Seeing the difference we have made to young people through Diane Modahl’s Sport Foundation and other great initiatives that the team support, helping young people is not only hugely rewarding, I also wholeheartedly recommend it as a way to keep grounded. It’s very easy when you start to become successful in areas of your life to forget the struggle. Sadly far too many people are struggling. Considering we live in a modern civilised society, it’s hard to believe that so many kids and families are so neglected and on the bread line.

The number one focus

You may not have spare cash to give, but we all have spare minutes in the day. And it’s time itself that makes the biggest difference.

I won’t steal Russell’s thunder but already in his first few weeks we have signed off some very exciting projects. They are set to positively impact so many families and children locally.

If you are running a business, you’d be excused to think that the number one thing to focus on is profit, however you’d be wrong.

The number one area to focus on is people. People make the biggest difference to the success and failure of your business. So when you are doing your level best to create the best working conditions possible why not widen the net to help a few more around who are less fortunate than yourselves, imagine the difference collectively we make.

If you want to get involved with any of our projects, get in touch with me or give Russell a call. He will be more than happy to tell you about our plans.


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