11 February 2021

We’re not understating things when we say that the last year or so has been really hard for everyone. The pandemic and lockdowns have thrown up major challenges for businesses. At Orion, we took the bull by the horns and have turned the challenges into opportunities for the business, as well as using it as a chance to make a positive impact in the local community.

Roast dinners for the vulnerable

A lot of our work is for residential homes and housing associations and we are very aware of the vulnerability of some of their residents. During the first lockdown, we had to keep working on maintenance and repairs in residential accommodation to ensure tenants continued to have heating and hot water. However, we wanted to make sure we were doing much more for the people who were isolating and shielding. So to help raise their spirits, we delivered around 50 roast dinners to the elderly and vulnerable living in the properties on Easter Sunday. We got really good feedback from the recipients, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that we made a difference to those individuals.

More recently, we donated £300 of vouchers to a raffle being run at a residential home for the elderly in Stevenage. We’re all finding things a bit hard and we hoped that this gesture would help lift a few spirits.

It’s important to our ethics, as a company, that we try to put something back into the community and try to help where we can. We are especially aware of our responsibilities because the types of buildings we look after house people who can benefit so much from even a little extra help.

Keeping clients safe

Many of our clients in the public sector, commercial properties, offices and clinics have had to close their doors during the lockdowns, meaning their water systems have to lie dormant for months at a time. When opening for business again, there’s a real danger from the legionella bacteria which thrives in the kind of stagnant water conditions that an unused water system results in. If someone becomes infected by the bacteria, they could go on to develop the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease. So it’s hugely important to test and control water systems that have lain dormant for any period of time.

Mindful of this, we put together a  package on water hygiene for clients, so that when buildings started to reopen they could be certain that everything was covered. What our engineers did was amazing – testing and cleaning the water systems in around 150 business premises in just four weeks!

Staff wellbeing

We look after the service and maintenance of residential properties as well as commercial properties, so the lockdowns meant that some of our engineers needed to keep working throughout, while others were on furlough. We obviously provided the engineers who were still working with all the PPE and training they needed in order to protect themselves as well as their clients, but also rewarded their hard work and dedication with a bonus.

We also understand that furloughed engineers have their own worries and stresses, and in order to lessen the financial burdens they might have experienced with only 80% of their wages, we topped up the government’s furlough payments to make sure they received their usual salary.

While so many people were isolated at home in the first lockdown, we set our team a charity challenge. We thought it would provide them with the motivation to get outside and do something purposeful. So we asked them to get sponsorship for a 5K walk, with all the money raised going to NHS charities. In addition, for every 5K our team members completed, we said we’d donate £100. We are delighted to say that we raised a total of £1,800!

In the second lockdown, we gave our team a bit of a lift by organising a laughter yoga session on Zoom. We also delivered cakes and treats to everyone so we could all enjoy a delicious indulgence at the same time.

CSR for the future

The success of our community and staff wellbeing activities have inspired us with plans for similar activities in the future.

We have just joined the Cyclescheme to help team members take up a more eco-friendly form of transport. We’ll roll it out when the weather improves and when we’re back in the office!

Last autumn we tried to be the water sponsor for a 5K run in aid of a local hospice, but the second lockdown meant the event had to be cancelled. As soon as it can go ahead, we’ll be going green by supplying water from fresh water bowsers that will be served to runners in biodegradable cups.

We’re also in the process of forming a partnership with a big local charity, but don’t want to release the news until we’ve got everything in place. Watch this space!

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