Giving Back: Sharing Our Skills With the Community

What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think about working in a bank? If you’re being honest, it probably isn’t special initiatives to help young people learn the importance of managing money the right way. But at Ulster Bank, that’s just one of the many ways that we’re making a difference in the community. I spoke to Pauline McKiernan, Sustainability Manager at Ulster Bank, who has played a crucial part in running community programmes and campaigns for Ireland.

Making sense of savings

Pauline’s role is all about ensuring we play our part as a bank in our local communities. “It’s a very varied role. The bank is very proactive across the whole Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) spectrum – not just the community programmes – but also how we manage our carbon footprint, how we add value to our customers’ lives.”

A key area for us is ensuring colleagues get involved in the activities the bank offers. One of these initiatives is MoneySense, a financial education programme for students aged between 5 and 18 that teaches them about budgeting, borrowing and saving. The bank provides support to teachers and helps them deliver MoneySense sessions directly to students. “We get involved with teachers and schools, and also have developed materials for parents. So far we’ve reached over 300 schools in Ireland and almost 200 Ulster Bank employees have volunteered to deliver the programme.” And there’s a huge level of interest and support from colleagues.

“Each year we run a community survey with staff which asks for their views on our community programmes. Over 80% feel MoneySense is the right kind of programme for a bank to offer.”

When I was speaking to Pauline, I expressed interest in volunteering for the MoneySense programme myself, but wasn’t sure if I had the mathematical know-how to fully benefit the students. Pauline put any doubts I had to rest.

“The new programme is structured in a way that any member of staff can support the programme, and I really encourage you to get involved. It’s a great experience.”

The students, especially younger children, are really benefiting from the sessions, and Pauline has received great feedback about the programme.

“Teachers say it’s amazing the level of interest that children have when we come in, especially for information about ATMs and savings.”

Boosting skills and innovation

Pauline is a Director on the board of Young Social Innovators (YSI) in the Republic of Ireland, an organisation that Ulster Bank supports by sponsoring the YSI Annual Awards. The partnership helps YSI as allowed the bank to help innovativeto reach more young people in schools across Ireland so that they can learn how to change their world for the better. “YSI reaches around 50% of Irish schools and is the largest social innovation programme in the world” Pauline adds.

“The impact of the programme is amazing. We’ve been able to meet so many talented young people, particularly at the Young Social Innovator awards. It’s all about young change makers wanting to change the world, and it’s heartening to see them passionate about what they’re doing.” And the bank provides consultancy support to help YSI in other areas. “We’ve had a small project team working with YSI last year, helping them with IT and data storage issues. We’ve also given them support on the HR side and looked into project management and other skills that might be helpful for them. We’ve been able to hone the expertise we have in-house and share that with YSI.”

Continuing the good work

There’s lots of things going on that colleagues get involved in every year and that they’re passionate about “We have a yearly fundraising campaign called ‘One Week in June’ and this brings our teams together across the bank once a year to raise money for charity. In the lastfour years colleagues have raised over €1.5m for good causes in the month of June alone. This year we’re linking the campaign to heart health and stroke prevention and have begun a great new partnership with Irish Heart - I think it’s a cause that has real meaning for a lot of colleagues and one that people will want to support.”

The work doesn’t stop, as Pauline finalises the bank’s 2016 Sustainable Banking report and gets going on the plans for One Week in June 2017 campaign. “We’ll have lots of support from around the bank as everyone starts planning their fundraising, and that includes our ExCo – they’re strong supporters of the campaign”. So watch out for lots more exciting news on this year’s OWIJ campaign.

Find out more

Find out more about MoneySense, Young Social Innovators and our Skills & Opportunities Fund.

See yourself working for us? Check out the latest Ulster Bank jobs.