The selection process involves external experts but also volunteer employees from the group. Today, we meet two of them - Nké Bidzogo-Ndzina and Sandrine Picard-Marcovecchio - who describe their volunteer work and the projects which struck a particular chord with them.
Nké is a team assistant in the markets room, and Sandrine is an organisation consultant within the Africa Mediterranean and Overseas Business Unit. Selected for their commitment to volunteering and their familiarity with charitable work, they met over the course of a committee meeting to take part in validating the projects supported by the Foundation. “It was an opportunity to gain more of a bird’s-eye view of what projects were chosen and what kind of volunteer work was being done by employees in other Group entities”, explained to us Sandrine, volunteer with the Foundation since 2018.
For me, it’s a way of finding an additional sense of purpose on top of my work for the company. It’s not just work or colleagues which connect us but also meaningful actions which I can decide to spend time on.
Sandrine Picard-Marcovecchio, employee volunteer.
The Foundation gives employees the opportunity to support different charitable organisations by offering their skills to them: “That’s what helped me take my first steps into volunteering,” explains Sandrine.
Nké has a longer history of volunteering with the company - she took part in Capital Filles (Girls’ Capital) programme in 2013. “Over the course of one school year, I supported a teenage girl in a secondary school in an ‘educational priority zone’. My role as a sponsor was to help her in her choice of career or studies after completing her ‘Baccaulauréat’ exams. I felt like I developed a real connection with this young woman. It was a breath of fresh air.” An experienced volunteer, Nké sees the option of giving her time to an organisation supported by the Foundation as “a great opportunity. Every volunteering initiative is a chance to meet fantastic people and to discover new things. For me, that’s really important.”
For Sandrine, who has already taken part in many projects with Daradja, Crésus, la Cravate Solidaire, Tous Bénévoles and Terres En Mêlées, joining the committee was a natural extension of her volunteer work: “I think it’s important to involve employees directly; it makes us feel more connected to the work of the Foundation.”
The standout projects for Nké and Sandrine
Nké and Sandrine worked with three other expert members of the selection committee to choose the twenty-four projects which were offered support at the two end-of-year committee meetings. But was there a standout project for them?
Nké hesitates: “For me, there was more than one standout project! So many of these initiatives restore your faith in people and their ability to do good. But if I had to choose one project, it would be Le Rocher. Le Rocher offers French lessons and social events to men and women from different countries to increase their employability. Other organisations have similar objectives but what I loved about Le Rocher’s approach was that a volunteer moves into the area with their entire family for a duration of three years. That level of commitment means completely changing your habits and those of your family - it’s unique. I’m sure that every family that lives through that experience comes out stronger, with a deep understanding of local conditions, which go beyond the sort of clichés you find in the media. After that kind of immersive experience, your understanding of the world, of other people and of yourself must be transformed.”
Sandrine also found it difficult to choose. In the end, she leans towards Viens voir mon taf, “which combines introducing jobs to groups who would not otherwise have access to them with long-term mentoring. It’s a project which gives lots of employees at Societe Generale the opportunity to volunteer.”
24 projects chosen at the selection committees for one year of support:
Association de l'Ecole Digitale et Numérique - France. Support for an EDEN (Digital) School in Villeurbanne which offers 15 to 18-year-olds a two-year, ‘Bac Pro’ level training programme specialising in digital skills.
BigBrothersBig Sisters - United States. A mentoring programme aimed at developing the potential of school children or students from socially deprived backgrounds.
Brokerage City Link - United Kingdom.Designing and implementing a programme aimed at 120 talented young people from deprived backgrounds to support them and offer them remote internships at companies in the City of London.
Carton Plein - France. A community cycling hub which organises removals on bike, using recycled boxes and operated by people experiencing social exclusion.
Cravate Solidaire - France. A programme to make people in need more employable by offering them training on how to behave in the workplace.
Descodeuses - France. A five-month training programme, with in-person and remote modules, in Paris, for unemployed women to prepare candidates for the realities of being a developer or a website developer.
Entretiens de l'Excellence - France. Meetings and discussions with industry experts aimed at young people in secondary school, particularly those from diverse cultural, regional and social backgrounds, to inspire them to be ambitious and give them the confidence to succeed.
ESSOR - Mozambique. A project to support the social and economic integration of 240 young people through a holistic programme which combines soft skills with vocational training in Maputo and Beira.
Food de Rue - France. Support for a sustainable community food hall, employability skills for women, and incubator of small catering businesses.
Gribouilli - France. A training programme supporting thirty-five women to find employment in childcare.
Heure Joyeuse - Maroc. Vocational training for young people from deprived and precarious backgrounds as a way of achieving social inclusion.
La Cloche - France. A community biscuit factory with adapted working hours and personalised socio-professional support for homeless people.
La Strada - Italy. A project to support twenty people in material, social and psychological need to give them a chance to return to active life and autonomy.
Le Rocher - France. French lessons and social events for adults, men and women of immigrant backgrounds, with the main aim of better social integration and employability.
Like ton Job - France. A three-year programme to discover different jobs from 5ème (UK Year 8) to 3ème (UK Year 10), aimed at students from educational priority zones.
LP4Y - India. Support for setting up centres for professional integration where training programmes are developed to have a positive social impact on communities: the beneficiaries become actors for improving local living conditions.
Planète Enfants & Développement - Burkina Faso. Project of certifying training to the profession of maternal assistant for 150 young women in Ouagadougou.
Play International - France. A project which aims to use sport and games to educate children aged 8 to 12 on how to form strong communities in high-need areas, with training to become programme leaders to offer greater autonomy to local stakeholders and offer a response to the Covid-19 health crisis.
Shanghai Young Bakers - China. Training for young Chinese people from disadvantaged backgrounds to teach them French baking and patisserie.
Street League - United Kingdom. A programme for education through sport and employability skills.
Unis Cités - France. Supporting the “Booster Pro”, an experimental project which aims to support socio-professional integration for out-of-work young people by signing them up to a twofold programme of volunteer work and vocational training.
Valentina Romania - Romania. Tutoring, digital training, psychological support, and cultural activities for teenagers from low-income families from the suburbs of Bucharest.
Viens voir mon taf - France. An innovative project to support young people without a support network, from schools in educational priority zones, into work.
Wake Up Café - France. A programme aiming for complete rehabilitation for people leaving prison, individual, tailored support from the inside to the outside and a community of mutual aid to fight recidivism and isolation.