Cumbrian BT fundraiser meets children helped by his charity work during emotional trip to Africa
A Cumbrian fundraiser has paid an emotional visit to vital community projects in South Africa and Lesotho to meet some of the people who have benefited over the years from his work for worthy causes.
Matthew Fishwick, 39, a senior project manager for BT’s local network business, Openreach, who is responsible for the rollout of superfast broadband in Cumbria, has organised fundraising events for several years, including initiatives for Comic Relief, Children in Need and local charities in Cumbria and the North West.
He got the chance to see first-hand some of the projects in Africa, which have benefited from his fundraising, when he and other BT people from around the UK visited Lesotho and Johannesburg. Matthew was one of ten BT employees nominated by senior managers to go on the trip.
They visited projects backed by BT through its Supporters Club as well as projects funded through Comic Relief. These included Kick 4 Life (K4L) in Lesotho, which engages local children through football to educate them about HIV; Legal Resources Council in Johannesburg, which provides free legal support for people facing unlawful evictions; and Fight with Insight, a boxing club formed to support abused youngsters.
When Matthew found out he was going on the trip, he asked his friends and colleagues to donate second hand football shirts, which could be given to the children supported by the Kick 4 Life charity Lesotho. The BT group managed to take 250 football shirts.
The experience was very emotional and moving for Matthew, who lives in Arnside with his two daughters, Holly and Olivia and his wife Bev. Speaking about his experience, Matthew said: “The whole experience was very humbling. It really made me think about what I have and take for granted as we live in a completely different environment.
“I have been to parts of South Africa before on holiday and that was a totally different world to the places I visited on this trip. I saw with my own eyes the brilliant work of the projects supported by Comic Relief and the BT Supporters Club. I’ve been deeply inspired by the determination of those infected with HIV in Lesotho, and humbled by the willpower and strength of the young crusaders against sexual abuse in Johannesburg.
“Every person on the trip cried at some point. It's hard to put into words, but the projects are grateful for every penny received.”
On the trip, Matthew also spent time with a Comic Relief project which helps combat and provide education on sexual abuse in schools. Matthew and his BT colleagues were entertained by singing from the children who are trying to change attitudes and promote healthy behaviours. “The children made us feel like celebrities and as a father of two children myself, I was proud that I am able to play a small part in helping other children far away in South Africa,” said Matthew.
BT’s My Donate not-for-profit fund raising service for UK charities handles the donations during telethon appeals for Comic Relief and Children in Need.
Matt Hemmings, Openreach’s North West general manager,said: “Matthew’s achievements are incredible and I was pleased to nominate him for this trip, to see how the money he helped raise for Comic Relief is spent. His commitment and determination inspire others to support this brilliant charity, which BT is proud to support. Using BT’s technological support and the talents of our people, we are able to help them raise even more money each year.”
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About BT MyDonate
MyDonate is a not-for-profit, online fundraising service for UK charities. BT MyDonate does not charge any commission fee, subscription fee or registration fee. The only charge made against your donation is the credit/debit card charge from the bank. (1.3% of donation on credit cards and 15p for each debit card transaction).
The service provides a secure, easy-to-use way for millions of people to raise money for the charity of their choice. BT MyDonate does not earn any interest on the money donated to a charity. Charities receive the money that has been donated weekly.
BT invests at least one per cent of its corporate pre-tax profits in the community and environment every year. At the end of March 2015, BT’s investment in society amounted to just over £32.5m over the previous 12 months - a combination of direct funding and in-kind support. This equates to 1.15% of our pre-tax profits.
About The Supporters Club
The Supporters Club aims to build a better world by bringing people together through sport. Donations from BT and our customers are invested into projects selected in partnership with Comic Relief. When customers sign up to BT Sport, they are able to make a recurring £1, £3 or £5 monthly subscription to The Supporters Club to help support these and other similar projects.