Forward-thinking helps inspire a generation

Scotland is the winner as taking corporate social responsibility provides a lifelong gift, says Claire Ford

Glasgow 2014 showcased Scotland to the world. Picture: Michael Gillen

Last month, Scotland witnessed our biggest ever sporting occasion, when the Commonwealth Games came to Glasgow and showcased to a global television audience of billions that our country could really put on a show.

The beauty of Glasgow 2014 was our ability to share this sporting milestone with some of the most disadvantaged young people in Scotland through a ground-breaking programme called Gift of the Games.

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This scheme ensured that young people, who otherwise probably would not have had the opportunity, could visit Glasgow and witness this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle by attending one of the many sporting events across the city.

Thousands of tickets were set aside for socially disadvantaged children, offering them a memorable occasion to experience the excitement of the Commonwealth Games for themselves.

They were transported free of charge from the length and breadth of the country to Glasgow, with meals provided.

Much of this was down to the generosity of the Games sponsors and Scotland’s business community, who met the cost of Gift of the Games, with the logistics delivered by Bauer Media’s Cash for Kids charity.

Given that so many organisations have some degree of connection or communication with society, corporate social responsibility (CSR) measures are, for many, an intrinsic part of the organisational culture.

Support of Gift of the Games by the business community, is a prime example of a good corporate initiative and the type of CSR activity that Quality Scotland actively encourages as an integral part of the EFQM Excellence Model, which we promote to businesses Scotland-wide.

At Quality Scotland’s Scottish Awards for Business Excellence in June, Peter Kelly, the marketing manager of Gift of the Games, was given a platform to explain the pioneering initiative to a capacity audience. This brought a fantastic and immediate response from a number of those attending – they were eager to get involved as they could see the transformational benefit such a worthy cause could bring.

One of those was Liz McGinniss from Castlemilk-based Craigdale Housing Association, winners of The Scottish Awards for Business Excellence “Recognised for Excellence” category at the Awards. Inspired by Peter Kelly’s talk, Liz pledged involvement from Craigdale to help bring 100 children from all across Scotland to attend Glasgow 2014.

Peter Kelly put her in contact with Cash 4 Kids, and Craigdale donated £3,500 to the fund-raising effort for Gift of the Games.

This helped to bring 100 disadvantaged young people from across the country to attend the badminton competition at the Emirates Arena, which, it is hoped, will inspire them to participate in the sport in the months and years ahead.

The response to Craigdale Housing Association’s generosity has been fantastic. The association has been involved in many different aspects of community involvement across the Castlemilk area over many years, but had never “reached out” further than its own neighbourhood before.

Moreover, Craigdale also managed to send 25 children and 15 adults – all current Craigdale Housing Association tenants – to attend the badminton competition at Glasgow 2014 through Gift of the Games.

As Liz McGinniss stated: “It was so rewarding to get involved in something so worthwhile and exciting – and if it encourages any of the children to participate in a sport, badminton or otherwise, after being caught up in the frenzy of the Commonwealth Games, then Craigdale Housing Association’s involvement and participation has been very worthwhile.

“We may only be recognised as a ‘local’ housing association in the eyes of our tenants and associates, but we made the day for 100 young people from across the country a very special one.”

CSR is recognised as a key part of any forward-thinking organisation’s plans and very often small gestures of help are as rewarding as large, pre-planned CSR campaigns.

We marvelled at the success of the Commonwealth Games. It brought Scotland to the forefront of world focus. As an “excellence” showcase of logistical planning, it could not have been bettered.

For organisations like Craigdale Housing Association, where continual business improvement is woven into the fabric of the organisation, the use of a CSR initiative has been a most worthwhile and valuable opportunity to let disadvantaged children share in our Commonwealth Games success.

And who knows, this act of generosity from Craigdale may yet inspire some of these young people to turn their visit to Glasgow 2014 into a springboard to sporting success at future Commonwealth Games.

• Claire Ford is the chief operating officer of Quality Scotland