Virgin Unite Impact Award: The Shortlist

This week I was joined by Jill Brady, Executive Vice President, Customer for Virgin Atlantic, Cemal Ezel, Founder of Change Please and Edouard Muuls, Investment Director at Virgin, to shortlist entries for Virgin Unite’s Impact Award – part of the wider Virgin Media Business VOOM 2018 competition.

Virgin Unite’s Impact award is offering £20,000 for a charity, business or social enterprise that is making a difference to people in need and is a brilliant opportunity for us to celebrate those focused on achieving positive impact. 

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The VOOM final takes place next week, which is when the Virgin Unite Impact Award winner will be announced too, but ahead of that I want to share a little more about the shortlisted entries.

Organic Blooms
Organic Blooms is a wonderful organisation based on a nine-acre flower farm, that is looking to broaden the opportunities available to people with disabilities and support needs. During their pitch we heard that only 28 per cent of people with a mild or moderate learning difficulty have paid work, compared with 74 per cent of the general population – staggering figures! Organic Blooms not only hires individuals with learning difficulties, but works to ensure new employees feel like they are entering into a support network, building self-esteem and given valued and purposeful job roles – diversity and inclusion at its best.

Blu Health co
Conversations around mental health are invaluable and thankfully becoming more commonplace, but learning how best to support those who need it is still a work in progress. Blu Health co is creating an app that allows people to log, observe and quantify the moments that matter to them, whether positive or negative. If a user logs three negative moments in a day, an automated text is sent to the users close friends and family to call, and if they are unavailable, The Samaritans will call. It’s a really wonderful way to use technology to provide support and care for others

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The Nifties Group
During this pitch we heard that food poverty exceeds eight million people, yet 20 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from food waste – which makes no sense. Nifties is working to reduce all food and plastic waste in the UK with its own discount shop – sourcing food products that are past their sell-by-date and selling for reduced prices. I love the community spirit driving this organisation and was touched to hear the story behind its inception.

Jotty’s Workshop
Jotty’s Workshop is offering support to women who have been out of work for a long time, whether that be from caring for a child or parent, or perhaps caring for a disabled child, parent or partner. They might have been signed off with stress, anxiety and many more reasons, but all equate to a loss of confidence and identity when wanting to return to work. Jotty’s Workshop is working to support women with their individual needs – which could be finding the right course to sign up to, offering mentorship, providing work experience and so on. This is an issue I hear friends and colleagues talk about lots and I love the idea of women pulling together to support one another.

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As you can imagine, hearing from all four of these organisations was brilliant. I feel completely inspired that people all over the country are proactively finding solutions to life’s challenges, and even more so, working together to solve them.

The VOOM finals take place next Wednesday (23rd), where I'll be announcing the winner of our Virgin Unite VOOM Impact Award 2018


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