Corporate partnerships: Whizz-Kidz gets more than money from BMW

The BMW Group UK's partnership with Whizz-Kidz has gone further than just offering a financial benefit to the charity

The two-year venture, which comes to a close at the end of 2016, has so far raised more than £300,000 to support the charity, which provides mobility equipment and support to children and young people.

But the partnership has also included the car company offering work experience placements to some of the charity's beneficiaries - something that can be hard for young people who use wheelchairs to secure.

Gina Finn, internal communications manager at BMW, says: "Having the students in on work placements was really powerful on both sides in terms of raising the profile of the partnership among our employees and for the young people themselves, because it can be difficult for them to find placements."

The placements consisted of six students last year and 10 this, all from Treloar College, a specialist college for disabled young people situated near Alton in Hampshire, not far from BMW's UK headquarters in Farnborough.

The students were able to gain an insight into various areas of the car firm's business, including sales and marketing, human resources and corporate communications.

The company, which has plants in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall in Warwickshire, asked employees to vote on which charity it should work with from a shortlist of names suggested by staff.

Finn says BMW's 4,500 UK staff have taken Whizz-Kidz to their hearts and have thrown themselves into fundraising for the charity through activities including marathons, quiz nights, car washes and challenge events.

Some employees have volunteered for the charity through the company's corporate volunteering programme.

BMW has also supported the charity through the loan of vehicles for charity events. For example, a minibus ferried exhausted Whizz-Kidz runners around after the London Marathon.

Heather Ridley, account manager for BMW at Whizz-Kidz, says the partnership has exceeded all expectations, with a high level of engagement across the business.

"The funds are providing specialist wheelchairs and mobility equipment to give disabled children freedom and independence," she says. "To date, we have been able to provide life-changing equipment for 48 young people thanks to BMW Group's support."

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