As part of AIB’s commitment to make a positive contribution to the communities in which it operates, the bank launched the AIB Community €1 million Fund earlier this year to back local charities as part of its wider €10 million community investment support.
Charities supported by the fund were nominated by AIB’s people, customers and the wider public. To date, 70 organisations across Ireland and the UK have benefited from the fund. These charities provide supports ranging from helping people suffering from cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s to providing guide dogs for the blind and hydrotherapy to children with learning disabilities.
One of these charities is Autism Support Louth & Meath. Founded in 2003 by parents to provide school places for their autistic children, the charity was awarded €28,000 from the fund to provide drama, music and therapeutic arts for autistic teenagers and young adults in the area.
It plans to work with the Quintessence Theatre Group, KaDaKaDaBoom Arts and the Dublin Circus Project to help these young people devise their own projects, develop their own artistic expression and build friendships in their communities.
“Many young people with autism spend most of their time at home and this problem became so much worse during Covid. Some are refusing to return to school at all, while others are returning but are finding coping with anxiety so difficult,” says Jacinta Walsh of Autism Support Louth & Meath.
“Our project, for which AIB has provided welcome support, looks at engaging with those young people and getting them back out in the community,” she adds. “It also hopes to bridge the gap between school and work. And while we recognise there may not be a specific job at the end of this, the project will help improve these young people’s interpersonal skills, planning, listening and social behaviour, while increasing confidence, wellbeing and self-esteem and, most important, enjoyment and fun.”
AIB chief sustainability and corporate affairs officer Mary Whitelaw says: “As a business, employer and neighbour, we are embedded in local communities through our people and our presence in towns and villages across the country. We seek to work closely with local communities through our programme of strategic partnerships, volunteering and fundraising, with a particular focus on sustainability, education, digital innovation and financial inclusion.’’
In the sustainability area, for example, AIB and FoodCloud, a social enterprise which redistributes surplus food, have a shared vision of building more sustainable communities to support the transition to a low-carbon economy, and a society where no good food goes to waste. Since 2018, AIB has directly supported FoodCloud to redistribute more than 20 million meals and to prevent 145 tonnes of food from going to landfill.
In addition, AIB and Tasc, the think tank for action on social change, have announced a countrywide initiative to conduct 30 ‘people’s transition’ studies over the next three years. The studies are aimed at delivering a participative decision-making model that views climate action as an enabler of local development. The announcement followed the successful completion in 2021 of two pilot studies, also supported by AIB, in Phibsborough, Dublin, and Ardara, Co Donegal.
In other initiatives, AIB has partnered with Junior Achievement Ireland for the past 25 years. In 2021, the bank committed to supporting a new junior achievement module, ‘It’s My Business’, which educates students on entrepreneurship. This will reach more than 6,000 primary school students who will learn how to turn ideas into businesses.
And this month, AIB partnered with AsIAm (Autism Spectrum Information Advice and Meeting Point CLG), supporting its aim of creating a society in which every autistic person is empowered to reach their personal potential and fully participate in society.
After more than 16 years of supporting Goal through fundraising events AIB last year became the official lead sponsor of the humanitarian agency’s flagship event, the Goal Mile. Backed by AIB, the Goal Mile reached more communities throughout Ireland and, virtually, across the globe than ever before, raising more than €400,000 in donations.
In response to the crisis in Ukraine, AIB also supported Goal, the Irish Refugee Council and their emergency response teams on the ground. This support was part of an overall €500,000 commitment to support those in need.
“The Goal Mile sees people across the country gather over the Christmas holidays to run, jog or walk a mile helping raise funds to alleviate the impact of climate change, crises and poverty in vulnerable communities in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America,” Whitelaw says. “As we approach the Christmas season, please consider supporting Goal’s work and join our ambassadors to take part in the Goal Mile.’’
To find out where your local Goal Mile is taking place visit aib.ie/community.