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Good for them, good for you

If the company you work for is not a RedR Patron, your career could be suffering. Antony Oliver finds out what employers and employees are missing by not getting involved.

Every company, whether in engineering or soap manufacture, gets numerous requests each year to donate hard earned cash to charity. The reality is, of course, that no matter how worthy, they cannot support every one.

RedR is one such charity. Aside from the many individuals who raise cash through sponsorship by running marathons and riding bikes across deserts, it also has its patron scheme through which companies and individuals can donate cash, tax efficiently, to the charity.

Seven firms and one individual - Tim Gilmore Wright - were found in the first wave and persuaded to covenant a five year donation to RedR.

'I think that every engineering company, whether it is a consultant, contractor or anything else, should seriously consider supporting RedR, ' says Jo Da Silva, Arup associate and long time RedR member. 'RedR and disaster relief is a tangible way for engineers to do something really positive.'

But she would say that wouldn't she? For 10 years ago Da Silva was instrumental in setting up the patron scheme and raising RedR's vital first cash to allow it to expand towards it current position.

However, though passionate about the cause, she also speaks from experience of the industry.

And she speaks with knowledge of the growing need for corporate social responsibility.

'RedR's aims are becoming more and more relevant to the way that engineers' roles are moving, ' she explains. 'Membership of RedR is rapidly becoming something that companies need to put into social accountability statements. If you are an engineering company then RedR is the charity for you.'

The patron scheme is a simple way for firms to help themselves and their employees fulfil these social obligations. It was the brainchild of RedR's founders Peter Guthrie and Chris Nash, who also realised that if RedR was to grow it needed to generate unallocated funding for new services.

Da Silva got involved in this scheme by chance after unstable politics in Kurdistan led to her RedR trip being aborted early. She soon found herself back in the UK turning the corporate patron scheme into a reality.

Basically this meant doing the leg work, writing to and urging companies and individuals to pledge money and get involved - at a time of course when little was known about the fledgling organisation.

In return they got a boost for their company profile and an invitation to a reception with RedR president Princess Anne.

Of course, then as now, it is clear they get much more. There are now 14 corporate and two individual patrons who believe so.

And as Da Silva points out, in terms of attracting and keeping staff - particularly the younger engineers - involvement with RedR can be worth a fortune.

'I recently lectured to 75 students at Cambridge University (about engineering careers) and what they were most interested in was RedR, ' she explains, pointing out how seriously young engineers value the role of social and environmental guardian.

'When they make decisions about who they want to work for, it is things like RedR that really matter.' Put like that, can your business afford to not get involved?

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