Local Legends: Supporting community projects that matter to Virgin employees

Virgin Unite Local Legends
Virgin Unite Local Legends
Ben Murphy
by Ben Murphy
1 May 2024

Virgin Unite is celebrating 20 years of collaboration. Join us in 2024 as we share the stories that shaped the Virgin Group’s and Branson family’s foundation and helped it, its partners, and the wider Virgin Group, create impact and change for the people and planet they serve. 

When Richard Branson founded Student Magazine in 1968, social activism and making a difference in the world was at the centre of what it was doing. Over 50 years later, that’s still true of the Virgin Group. The Virgin brand has never shied away from tackling some of the world’s most controversial and unacceptable issues. This determination and desire has been matched by many of our incredible Virgin people in their own communities.  

Virgin Active
Virgin Active

Time and again, Virgin people step up and go the extra mile in support of others – often using their own time to volunteer for charities that tackle unacceptable issues, right on their doorstep. Virgin passionately believes these people are true legends and their volunteer work should be celebrated.  

Since day one, Virgin has put its people first. And without its employees’ passion and dedication, it simply wouldn’t be the brand it is today. This is why Virgin Unite launched Local Legends, a £1,000,000 fund to support charities that are tackling unacceptable issues in the UK – issues that Virgin employees care about too. 

Through Virgin Unite Local Legends, Virgin Unite is awarding £1,000,000 over three years to community-based UK charities nominated by a Virgin employee who volunteers with the charity. In the first two rounds, nominated charities have been able to apply for a grant of £5,000 to spend where it’s needed most. 

So far, Virgin Unite has announced that 31 charities have received a £5,000 grant from the first round, with many more to come. These charities are tackling issues such as poverty prevention and relief, education, health, advancing human rights, investing in equality and diversity, and supporting people in need. 

Local Legends – Holly Branson meets the Round 1 volunteers

Holly Branson, chair of Virgin Unite, said: “I really believe our people and the charities they support are true legends and they should be celebrated, so I’m grateful to everyone at Virgin Unite and Virgin Management who helped bring this project to life. We should always recognise the people who give up their time to make a difference in our societies, and in their communities, and I never want to lose sight of how lucky we are to have them working with us at Virgin.” 

Adam Holmes spends his working hours as a Service Relationship Manager at Virgin Media O2, but in his spare time, he volunteers at Sheffield S6 Foodbank. “The main thing is to support creating food parcels for vulnerable people, families, just so they can get by really,” Adam said. “They also offer some great work around debt management, so they are not only providing the food but they’re also trying to help people out of the cycle that they’re in.” 

Melanie Paul, Distribution Strategy Manager at Virgin Atlantic, volunteers in her free time with FreeShop Crawley, a food bank that provides food, toiletries and baby essentials without any associated costs. She said: “It’s the best thing ever, the people are so grateful. You’re not doing it for the reward, it's just trying to help people as much as possible. Anybody could be in the same situation at any point in their lives, and their self-esteem is so low but after a while they really do pick themselves up and get back on the horse and get back to work, and then they want to contribute as well, so it’s a real cycle.” 

Click here if you’d like to learn more about Virgin Unite.