Leading logistics provider, Europa Worldwide Group, has announced its commitment to fund a brand-new play area for sick children, close to its Dartford headquarters.
This project is the first of Europa’s 2018 community fundraising efforts. Last year the business had a year-long initiative to celebrate its 50th anniversary, which raised over £13,000 for various charities.
The play area is for the children’s ward of Darent Valley Hospital, in Dartford. Children admitted to the children’s Willow Ward were not able to play outside when the hospital’s old climbing frame was deemed unsafe and cordoned off last summer. Since then, the damaged equipment has been removed so the children could go outside, but the climbing frame has not been replaced.
Europa employee, Credit Manager Chris McGurk, first became aware of the damaged play area when visiting two friend’s children on the ward and wanted to see if the company was able to help.
He said: “It was devastating to see the children on the ward having to stay indoors due to the derelict play area when I visited last year. All of the ward staff work so hard to ensure the children have the very best experience whilst going through the trauma of being in hospital, including dedicated play specialists who do a wonderful job to relax and distract the children by their bedside. I wanted to see what Europa could do to help to give the children the most positive experience possible.”
Europa Worldwide Group’s 1hub headquarters, in Dartford employs over 200 staff and is the company’s largest site out of 11 across the UK. The site is located just ten minutes from Darent Valley Hospital and many of Europa’s employees and their families have been treated there. Having played a large role in other projects within the local community in previous years, including an arts and education scheme with Gateway Primary Academy, the business was keen to continue its community support work in the area.
Together with a significant donation of £10,000 from Europa’s charity fund, kind-hearted staff from across the UK will be taking part in charitable challenges and activities in order to raise the remaining £6,000 needed to install the new equipment.
Carl Potter, HR and Facilities Director at Europa Worldwide Group, believes the project is an exciting opportunity to help the local Dartford community.
He said: “When Chris approached us with the suggestion to help the Willow Ward, we jumped at the chance. The old climbing frame was in such disrepair, meaning the children were mostly kept inside before it was removed. As the spring months approach, we’re hoping we can raise all of the money needed in time for the warmer weather, so patients from the ward can get outside again - something which is so important for young patients in hospital.
“The brilliant staff at the hospital do all they can to ensure the children get the best care and we want to help with just a small part of that. The old frame has now been removed and the team have chosen a ship style frame for the play area, which can be used by all children, including those in wheelchairs – and is very fitting with the sea, land and air operations of our business!”
Sally George, Head of Fundraising and Voluntary Services at Darent Valley Hospital, added: “During 2017 we had to stop our young patients from accessing Willow Ward’s playground, even through the hot weather, because our wooden play equipment had become old, unsafe and in a state of disrepair. This has now been removed so children can go outside and get some fresh air, but it is now stark with a big void where the previous equipment was.
“We are so grateful to Europa for recognising this need and for choosing to support us to deliver an even more exciting outside space, for children of all ages and mobility, to benefit and explore, to help aid their recovery.”
Europa also plans to run a competition for the children on the ward to name the climbing frame ship, with the winning name being mounted on a plaque.
Andrew Baxter, Managing Director of Europa Worldwide Group, said: “Fundraising for local and deserving causes is in our DNA and an integral value for our company. The hospital provides an essential service to all of our employees who live in the Dartford area and we were more than willing to get involved to help improve the children’s ward. I would like to say a huge thank you to our brilliant staff who have signed up to take part in fundraising activities so far and we can’t wait to see the climbing frame installed.”
Agne Sriubenaite, Europa’s dedicated Charity Fund Co-Ordinator will be managing the project on behalf of the business.