Taking Forward Steps

Raytheon UK employees share their volunteering experiences

To mark National Volunteers’ Week in June, Raytheon UK employees Fiora, Laurence and Robert shared why they are embracing the company’s Forward Steps volunteering programme to support local communities.

For Fiora, an eco-enthusiast, busy mum and project assistant at Raytheon UK, it’s a moment of perfect work-life balance.

Every time she volunteers to clean up litter at a local park, she’s fulfilling her role as a leader in the company’s Sustainability Network, spending time with her family, and even getting in a bit of exercise – something she found herself in need of when COVID-19 hit.

“During lockdown, I felt I was losing my rhythm and routine. I was much less active and a lot more sluggish,” she said. “It was during a long walk in the park with my seven-year-old that I kept popping bits of litter into a bag when it dawned on me that it didn’t feel like exercise, but I was getting fresh air, plenty of steps and enjoying my family’s company in a cleaner environment.”

Fiora is one of many Raytheon UK employees participating in the company’s Forward Steps volunteering programme, which supports communities through Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths education as well as sustainability initiatives.

The litter-picking initiative she is leading is facilitated through Forward Steps which also supplies the litter-picking gadgets.

“I’m sure we would all like to walk through clean, glistening streets and parks free of rubbish,” said Fiora. “It makes me so proud to work in a company that is investing in very important social initiatives and is committed to make a positive impact in the local environment by empowering employees like myself to pursue volunteering initiatives. I see it as a little virtual hug for our planet and our local spaces.”

Laurence – Championing STEM mentoring

Laurence, a chief engineer within Raytheon UK’s Airborne Solutions business, devotes much of his spare time to serving as one of the company’s STEM ambassadors.

His activities include mentoring students through national STEM competitions such as Raytheon UK’s annual Quadcopter Challenge, Big Bang, Engineering your Future and the Engineering Educating Scheme Wales challenge.

Laurence counts his father as his personal mentor and inspiration, and he hopes to inspire the children he mentors in the same way.

“My father was in engineering and I remember he used to repair everything, including TVs, toasters, kettles – things that would usually just get thrown away these days. That always fascinated me,” he said. “I enjoy raising the profile of professional engineering as a career choice.”

In addition, Laurence is a delivery driver for the Runcorn and District Foodbank, and he is a COVID-19 blood plasma donor.

“I gain pride and satisfaction in helping my local community and those less fortunate than I am,” he said.

Robert – Befriending those in need

Isolation has been a key concern for many people during the pandemic. It led several Raytheon UK employees to volunteer, through Forward Steps, as telephone buddies for the Royal Air Force Association, RAFA, Befriending Service.

The association had RAF veteran members who were spending a lot of time on their own and needed one-to-one contact, help and support during this difficult time. Robert, Raytheon UK’s head of commercial programs for Space and Airborne Services, held an interest in the Armed Forces and Armed Forces charities outside of work and wanted to support RAFA veterans.

“Over the past 10 months I’ve built wonderful relationships with three RAF veterans who I chat to regularly through the RAFA Befriending Service,” Robert said. “They’ve shared stories with me about their RAF service life and their personal experiences through lockdown. It’s been truly a pleasure and an honour to have regular contact with them and I hope to continue this into the future.”

Delivering social change

Forward Steps is the umbrella for Raytheon UK’s charitable and volunteering activities. It is committed to supporting Raytheon Technologies’ ‘Connect Up’ global initiative that encourages volunteering champions to connect with and give back to their local communities.

“It’s a truly collaborative programme," said Sen Sami, Raytheon UK’s Corporate Social Responsibility chair and director of Communications. “In the UK, we have a nationwide committee of over 30 people spanning every function, business and region. And thanks to our army of volunteers, we have achieved great momentum in 2021 rolling out our key initiatives and supporting our strategic charitable partners. This includes de-littering towns, befriending veterans and providing STEM school education activities, such as how to build a plane.”

Throughout the pandemic, Forward Steps has played a part in Britain’s COVID-19 national response with Raytheon UK employees producing PPE, delivering vital blood bank supplies and being telephone support buddies to those most vulnerable.

“As Forward Steps lead, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of people giving up their individual and family time to help deliver social change and create a better environment for the next generation,” said Sami.