Openreach gives a festive boost to Home-Start

Openreach’s 3,200-strong workforce across Scotland has launched a Christmas campaign for Home-Start to support some of the nation’s most vulnerable families and children.

Volunteers from the digital network business collected 5,000 gifts for 1,100 children across 18 Home-Starts from Orkney to Stranraer. Employees who couldn’t make it to collection points also raised nearly £3,700 in Scotland to buy more gifts and vouchers for the charity.

Engineers have handed over hundreds of priority items on the charity’s shopping list to local Home-Starts, including games, toys and books, arts and crafts, selection boxes, cosy blankets, hats and gloves along with wrapping materials and gift bags.

It’s part of a wider Christmas campaign across BT Group2 in support of Home-Start, which is one of the company’s UK Charity Partners along with UNICEF and the British Asian Trust.

Organiser Greg Fleming, Openreach’s senior engineering manager for Scotland, said: “Openreach is focused on wellbeing in our workforce and giving to others is fundamental to this. Earlier this year our fibre engineers collected thousands of items for food banks, and we decided to do it all again for Home-Start to support vulnerable families this Christmas. This time the whole of Openreach and BT Group has got behind it.

“We know times are tough for so many families across Scotland right now. We want to help make sure there’s a smile on the face of every child supported by Home-Start this Christmas. We’ve been overwhelmed with support and it's nice to know that we'll make a difference to local communities the length of Scotland this Christmas.”

More than a decade has passed since Openreach engineer Chris Farmer’s family was first involved with Home-Start, and the charity’s support was even more vital when the mother of his children passed away, leaving him to bring up two small children single handed.

Chris said: “Home-Start is close to my heart as they helped us out as a family when my kids lost their mum. It wasn’t the easiest of times, with my son and daughter both being under six, but the help we got was amazing and we’re in a good place now. We’re still in close contact with the Home-Start co-ordinator who helped us to this day – even though she’s retired now, she has become a family friend.

This has been a fantastic opportunity to give something back this Christmas and the support from across the company has been overwhelming. It’s brilliant to see what can be done collectively as a team. It’s going to make a big difference on Christmas Day when kids wake up to a bagful of toys, games, chocolate and sweets – there’s a multitude of gifts been donated.”

Home-Start is a local community network of trained volunteers and expert support providing compassionate, confidential help to families with young children through challenging times. With more than 180 local, independent Home-Starts across the UK, and more than 10,000 fully trained home-visiting volunteers, the charity supported 56,000 children in 27,000 families last year. More than 100 children are referred to their services every day.

Vivien Waterfield, Deputy Chief Executive for Home-Start UK, said: “We are delighted that Openreach is supporting our families with this incredible project. Our goal is to make sure no parent feels alone, by standing alongside families with compassionate, non-judgemental community-based support. It has been a difficult year for families so we are thrilled that these Christmas gifts will help bring a smile to children and their parents.”


1 Openreach Limited is a legally separate subsidiary which is wholly owned by BT.

Picture: Chris Farmer (left) and Openreach Scotland service delivery director Fraser Rowberry load up a van ready to deliver to local Home-Starts.