Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Side by side

The foundation set up by mobile phone company Vodafone has given funding and support to Samaritans' work with 16- to 25-year-olds since 2003, helping it to establish an email service.

HAZEL NORVAL, SENIOR CORPORATE FUNDRAISER, SAMARITANS

The Vodafone UK Foundation was looking for partners in 2003 and wanted to target the 16- to 25 year-old age group. Samaritans is not reaching young people effectively enough, so we thought that establishing an email service - a communication method with which young people feel comfortable - would reduce the suicide and self-harm rate in that age group. Suicide is the leading cause of death among men aged 15-34, with more than four suicides every day.

Success hinges on communication. We need to make clear that Samaritans is not just about suicide but also about addressing emotional health and talking to each other.

Vodafone provides us with £500,000 a year, for which we have to prove, through research projects and ongoing evaluation, that we are delivering the service effectively. Money aside, we have gained time and expertise, having attended a number of workshops hosted by Vodafone on marketing, technology and project management. Vodafone employees can also become Samaritans volunteers and attend focus group research.

SARAH SHILLITO, SENIOR MANAGER, VODAFONE UK FOUNDATION

In 2003, the Vodafone UK Foundation started looking for a new three-year flagship charity partner, with a brief to develop communications for 16 to 25 year-olds.

Samaritans and two other charities approached us to fund a confidential email service for the age group. Research showed that the anonymity of email and the perception of having more control over each interaction meant young people were more likely to get in touch. The result, jo@samaritans.org, was such a forward-thinking campaign we knew it would have an impact.

Samaritans has brought maturity to the partnership, invaluable marketing and media knowledge and expertise in the field of emotional support. Eighteen months in, the results include enhanced service delivery, capacity building and financial savings. Vodafone has hosted workshops on technology, marketing and project management, provided mentors and advice, helped set up text fundraising schemes, given legal advice and helped with the preparation of sponsorship presentations.

The partnership has matured and we're very proud of that.

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