At Vifor Pharma UK, we’ve been doing annual community days since 2010. When we started, there were about 50 of us in the UK business, and it was good fun. The fi rst place we went to was a homeless centre. Everyone painted or decorated, some got their hammers out to build furniture and others did the washing up or cleaning. I still remember three of us hanging onto a wall we were painting and laughing as the scaffolding started to collapse underneath us. There’s now well over 100 of us, so since 2015 we’ve offered more options. We’ve decorated a village hall, cleaned beaches to help the environment, volunteered at a refuge for women and their families, and cleared up the playground at a nursery so the children could go outside. We went to an animal rescue centre, taking dogs for a walk, cleaning out kennels, fixing things – even washing the dogs. Coming together as a group was the most important thing.
Both my parents suffer from dementia, so that’s close to my heart. We’ve been to a care home that specialises in looking after the elderly and people with dementia, putting up the Christmas decorations and singing Christmas carols. For me, it was giving something back and being able to say thank you to the nurses – we were having as much fun with them and the patients as we could.
Doing all this has driven a spirit of collaboration and community feeling. You get involved with people you might never come into contact with normally. But most of all, wherever we’ve been, someone at some point has touched my arm and said, “thank you.” That’s moving – you just know it’s appreciated.