The Virgin Unite Staff Connection Trip 2012
- Nov 01, 2012
Angela Allgood recalls her experience of this year's Virgin Unite's Staff Connection Trip and gathers the opinions of colleagues who had an equally life changing trip...
A couple of weeks ago, I returned from my journey to South Africa, selected as one of the lucky ten individuals from across the Virgin Group of companies to participate in the annual Staff Connection Trip which is put on by Virgin Unite.
The chance to learn about the work of Virgin Unite and Pride ‘n Purpose first-hand is what originally inspired me to apply and I couldn’t have imagined the immense impact the trip would have on me. Fundraising £15k in 6 weeks was a fun challenge and we smashed the target, thanks to the generosity of our co-workers, friends and family.
Once in South Africa, we spent our days planting a sustainable food garden and building a community playground for the local community of Dumphries. We met with inspiring entrepreneurs in Johannesburg and visited the Bhubezi community healthcare clinic. We furnished a school, met with teens at the Columba 1400 leadership academy and even had time to fit in a game of footy with the locals (who went easy on us!).
"A fantastically uplifting and humbling experience. Be prepared to be struck by the beauty of Africa"
Unless you've been, it’s hard to articulate the truly life changing experience that is the Virgin Unite Staff Connection Trip and the incredible people you meet. The week embodied everything the Virgin brand represents: fun, hard work, dynamic people, inspiration and compassion. In order to paint a truer picture, it’s important to hear from the other members of the amazing team that shared in this epic journey:
“A fantastically uplifting and humbling experience. Be prepared to be struck by the beauty of Africa, the landscape and animals, sounds and smells, and the wonderful friendly and smiling people - it will tug at your heart.” – Steve Pullen, Virgin Media
“It has been a phenomenal experience and diversity for me; we worked hard and played hard. The team work and sharing chores was amazing. It's an amazing token of appreciation that Virgin Unite takes the time, effort to make a difference and reward individuals who have gone beyond the call of duty being Virgin's.” – Adam Damons, Virgin Mobile South Africa
“Virgin Unite Staff Connection Trip is where we roll up sleeves and pitch in -- making one place in our world a bit better, blessed in coming home with fresh and more resonant personal purpose. We united as a team: prepared and planted, built and watched work, installed and dreamed. But it turns out that kids' smiles do it for me. The knowing stare, creating improvements that will grow, a sense of enduring good. How great is that?” – Ted Brumleve, Virgin Hotels
“I applied for the Virgin Unite Staff Connection trip as I was interested in helping a local community, learn about other Virgin companies and be a great team player - and I not only gained this in abundance - I gained a whole lot more ! The whole experience was truly amazing and made me love Virgin even more.The opportunity to travel with other colleagues from the Virgin family to help a local community in South Africa, provide hope, give to others, meet inspiring new people, creating and seeing smiles on the children’s faces, finding out about people and culture, working in a team and contributing to a sustainable project cannot be underestimated.
The people you meet, the friends you make and the things you see from this cannot easily be explained in words, but I'll give it a go - enlightening, inspirational, humbling, moving, exciting, privileged, rewarding, happy and sad at times - but more happy ! In one word - AMAZING. The opportunity to join together with other Virgin colleagues from other Virgin companies to help provide sustainable solutions in a local community in SA is so rewarding and this once in a lifetime experience really does create everlasting memories. Just do it and screw business as usual.” – Richard Haydon, Virgin Money
"The 7 days I spent with the Staff Connection Trip was a pocket in time that was filled with more love, learning, and feeling than a whole year of days that just pass by"
“A trip like this brings you out of your comfort zone, and into a place where you overcome your fears in order to make a difference, both to other communities, and to your own self. It's like you have to go far away and put yourself in extreme unfamiliar conditions in order to fully realize what potential lies within each of us. I went there expecting to help local communities, what I found was that I was inspired by them. Through being an ambassador of Virgin, you realize just how much people look up to the values that Virgin stands for, and it makes you want to live up to your full potential as well. You see your life a bit differently; where you are weakened by fear, insecurity, doubt, and how silly it is not to live up to your full potential. The people you meet are so sincere, so beautiful! The heart and soul of people out there committed to making a difference is astounding, and you have to live it to really know this. The 7 days I spent with the Staff Connection Trip was a pocket in time that was filled with more love, learning, and feeling than a whole year of days that just pass by... I am no longer satisfied with strings of days that don't hold purpose, laughter, or change. That's what this trip has done for me; I know more exists, even though my life is wonderful, I now require more of myself and of those who I chose to spend time with. This feeling is too great!” – Shelly Gerrish, Virgin America
“What an amazing opportunity to see the Virgin ideals come to life in helping others. Virgin is truly making a difference around the world; this trip is your chance to not just see it in action, but also to be a part of it.” – Chris Thompson, Virgin Mobile Canada
“The Staff Connection Trip has given a handful of community minded individuals from across the Virgin groups worldwide an insight into what type of impact a ‘brand’ and business can have on the global community. By bridging the silos between the Government, Not For Profit and Corporate worlds, and bringing together passion, innovation, drive and an attitude of “screw it, let’s do it”, the force for good is contagious and unstoppable. And the results in the communities speak for themselves. For me, this trip not only cemented my own beliefs in what action needs to be done in our ‘global village’, but also inspired me to take all of this passion & innovation for change and bring it home to my own community to develop further. It also showed me just how proud I am to be working for such a thriving & diverse brand, who really is a force for good in our world. The people who were on the trip were beyond brilliant and I cannot believe just how much FUN we had together. The bond you create is surreal and I know we have formed some great friendships that will last a very long time. We have an amazing opportunity here at Virgin to impact our community and create sustainable and long term change for our world. The most exciting part is that it has already begun…” - Luke Evans, Virgin Australia
“The whole experience from start to finish was life changing. Never was I aware of the hard work, dedication and passion Virgin Unite and Pride 'n Purpose so actively seek to make change for disadvantage communities. I am so proud to be working for a company who supports change and being socially responsible; and impressed by how pro-active they work along side the community to listen and hear what they need to make a difference. I was very lucky to have been selected to spend a week volunteering in Dumfries, Ulusaba; where I learnt about the struggles of everyday life, as well as the hope that comes from the strong community support, and the work from Virgin Unite and Pride ‘n Purpose. Our presence had a huge welcoming wherever we went; every single person I met from the teachers and children of Mawewe school, David and Lindsey from Pride ‘n Purpose and the wonderful gardening team in Dumfries – were all so happy to see us. I’m still so appreciative how all of us (Virgin!) came together from all corners of the world to help, join in the fun and laughter and understand the hardship of everyday life of the local community. It was moving, touching and unforgettable. I'm truly grateful to have been part of this.” – Suneet Sehmi, Virgin Holidays