Amazonians support their community: Mark Chew is giving back to his local community in Bolton
Amazon in the Community provides support to the communities around our operations and corporate locations in the UK. We focus on ‘Right Now Needs’ like food poverty and isolation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and Disaster Relief in the communities of our employees and sites.
Right across our business, Amazon employees have opportunities to act on the issues that matter and contribute to their communities – such as supporting the delivery of millions of free meals with Magic Breakfast, donating funds to more than 50 charities as part of Amazon’s COVID-19 relief programme, or donating thousands of literacy packs to primary school children across the UK.
To find out more about the impact our employees can make through their passion, enthusiasm and community spirit, we are sharing the stories of Amazon employees across the UK who are going above and beyond in their local community.
This month we spoke to Mark Chew, General Manager’s Assistant at our fulfilment centre in Bolton, who helps build a vibrant and engaging workplace while also forging links with charities and community organisations in the local area.
“No day is the same!”
Mark’s day-to-day role in Bolton involves building new ways to engage Amazon employees working in the fulfilment centre – which means he works with teams and projects right across the site.
“No day is the same – we’re always a whirlwind of activity! I might be working with the Change team one day, and the Sustainability team the next,” he explains. “This gives you exposure to lots of exciting opportunities, and to build relationships with our brilliant team here.
“I get involved with multiple projects based on my working relationship with the General Manager and supporting him day-to-day. He supports me and trusts me to do the job and allows me to create a welcoming place where employees feel inspired.”
Bringing charities closer to the site
Mark’s role also involves engaging the local community and charities on behalf of all employees at the site.
In Bolton, this includes cash donations made each month by Amazon, to a local charity nominated by employees – as well as product donations.
Recently the fulfilment centre has built a relationship with Newlife, a charity for disabled children and their families. There are now more than one million disabled and terminally ill children in the UK, and thousands of them rely on Newlife for vital equipment, as well as nursing support and pioneering medical research.
“Newlife is active in this area, and we provide product and cash donations to support their vital work. I also keep in touch with the team at Newlife to understand how we can help, and to hear the good news stories about the impact our employees are making with their support,” said Mark.
Sheila Brown OBE, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Newlife, explains: "Every time Amazon sends donated products, they start a journey that will make a world of difference to the lives of disabled and terminally ill children across the UK.
“Every penny raised in our stores goes directly towards funding Newlife's core charitable services, which allow children with disabilities to live their very best life. All children have the right to be free from pain, to learn and develop and fulfil their potential, and having the right equipment at the right time makes that possible.”
Sheila adds: “Thousands of children rely on Newlife to get the equipment they desperately need, which is why the support of Amazon is so invaluable. This is how Amazon makes a huge difference."
“Whenever I speak to charities, the message is simple: every little helps.” Mark continues. “It’s a huge privilege to listen, learn and respond in any way possible. The charities we partner with all offer members of our local community here around Bolton the support they need, whether that’s fighting food poverty or helping people feel less isolated.
“During the pandemic, our fulfilment centre was also able to support local charity, Urban Outreach, with a special COVID-19 grant. This helped support their work which involves supplying food to households in crisis, and support for the most underrepresented and vulnerable adults and young people in Bolton.”
Dave Bagley MBE, chief executive of Urban Outreach, explains: “Pre-pandemic we were supporting around 100 families, but this rose to more than 2,000 families needing support during peaks period of the pandemic. From the second week of lockdown onwards, more than sixteen months, Mark has been on the phone offering a perfectly timed donation for our needs – from cakes and biscuits when we needed treats, to a donation of toys for Christmas.“
As a small charity facing immense challenges, having Amazon’s support in our corner has been simply incredible. We have now provided food to over 70,000 people in Bolton, delivered thousands of lunches to children qualifying for Free School Meals, raised nearly £1.8m in funds and invested in a new warehouse.
“Mark’s team and Amazon have been like a big brother to Urban Outreach, supporting us all the way – I’m personally grateful, and so are the thousands of people who have been supported through this generosity,” Dave adds.
Mark continues: “I want to bring the local community closer to our work here at Amazon, and in turn we want our employees to see and feel the impact they’re making. For example, the screens in our canteen ping up with these stories and bring them to life – so everybody understands their impact around Bolton."
Creating a vibrant and engaging workplace
Mark is also committed to building a vibrant and engaging place to work for all employees: “Everything I do is inspired by making the best experience possible for everyone I meet at our site.”
Working closely with the site’s General Manager, he’s entrusted to turn impactful ideas into reality – from charity partnerships to free giveaways, surprise treats in the canteen, employee raffles with special prizes, live music and much more.
“Recently we had our site’s third anniversary, so I organised free giveaways, branded cupcakes, free choc ices in the canteen and organised a raffle for our employees to win prizes. We even had live music in the building!
“If there’s an employee engagement activity, I’m probably involved,” he laughs. “Especially around busy periods for our employees like Prime Day, I’ll try to have something different on every day, so people have something fun to look forward to when they arrive at work.”
Through Amazon in the Community, our employees build invaluable working relationships with charitable organisations to provide support, advocacy and to identify new ways in which Amazon can support local communities.
Watch this space for more stories about the impact Amazon employees have in their local communities.
Find out more about Amazon in the Community.