Across our business, Amazon employees have opportunities to act on the issues that matter and contribute to their communities – such as supporting the delivery of millions of free meals with Magic Breakfast, donating funds to more than 50 charities as part of Amazon’s COVID-19 relief programme, or donating thousands of literacy packs to primary school children across the UK.
To find out more about the impact our employees can make through their passion, enthusiasm and community spirit, we are sharing the stories of Amazon employees across the UK who are going above and beyond in their local community.
Check out Mark Chew’s story at our site in Bolton, as he works hard to bring charities, employees and the community closer together while building a vibrant and engaging workplace.
This month, we spoke to Gillian Maxwell, Executive Assistant at our fulfilment centre in Gourock, Scotland. Gillian’s love for her community shines through as she supports local organisations and empowers her colleagues to get involved as well. Because of Gillian, Amazon has been introduced to fantastic organisations in Gourock like Calum’s Cabin and Branchton Community Association.
Supporting colleagues and local charities
A self-proclaimed ‘organiser’, Gillian says she loves being the person in the fulfilment centre that her colleagues depend on.
“I have the best job ever! I organise events and meetings, and work to make the site at Gourock a comfortable and fun environment for our employees. Before the pandemic, my favourite event was the party we’d have in the new year to thank employees for their hard work over Christmas. I always try to book local venues, caterers and suppliers as I want the community to be at the heart of everything we do.”
Gillian is a community champion at heart: on top of her work with Amazon, she is a regular charity volunteer and a local community councillor in Gourock. Gillian’s commitment to her local area is clearly recognised by those around her too, and she was thrilled to be elected recently as the secretary for her community council.
“I believe in putting myself out there,” she explains. “Especially if you want to see change, you have to get out there and make it happen.”
These activities outside of work, and her deep knowledge of the local community’s challenges and priorities, have been integral to her role today at Amazon: “I’ve been able to introduce Amazon to fantastic local organisations here like Calum’s Cabin, Branchton Community Association, Parklea Branching and more.”
Calum’s Cabin is a charity that provides holiday homes for children facing cancer, so the whole family can spend quality time together and make irreplaceable memories in beautiful settings.
Gillian adds: “I got to know Calum's Cabin a few years ago, and what started with a donation from Amazon has turned into a long-standing relationship. One memorable event was the ‘Kiltwalk’ to raise funds for their work, with our team from Amazon walking 23 miles in total. We even had some employees at a pitstop giving out sandwiches, water and cheering everyone on!”
Caroline Speirs, Chairperson for Calum’s Cabin, explains the importance of the relationship: “Our relationship with Gillian and the whole team at Gourock is outstanding and the support Calum’s Cabin receives greatly impacts the charity and all families we support. Throughout the pandemic and prior, these relationships have greatly benefited our community. I really don’t know where Calum’s Cabin would be without the support of Amazon in so many ways!”
Amazon employees at Gourock have continued to support Calum’s Cabin with donations throughout the impact of COVID-19, alongside donations for Branchton Community Centre which hosts a range of services for the local community, including a shop with reduced and free food, fitness classes, support groups and a youth club.
“I knew of the fantastic work Branchton Community Centre were doing before the pandemic, then I saw their COVID-19 response which was phenomenal. When we had the opportunity to support with product donations I thought of them right away. I knew they were at the centre of their community and that they would be best placed to share the products with those most in need.
“We donated a lot of products to Branchton Community Centre, plus cash donations. We wanted to support them with their ‘outreach cabin’, help them create a lending library and potentially even a shop. After working with the team virtually, I can’t wait to meet all the staff and volunteers in person,” Gillian explains.
Willie Wilson, Manager of Branchton Community Centre, says: "We’ve been at the heart of tackling poverty in our area for a long time now. During the first lockdown, we delivered over 450 meals per day and supplied more than 30,000 meals to people in need throughout Inverclyde.
“Inspired by our work, Gillian contacted us directly to ask if we needed donations – and Amazon's donations are now given to those in most need in our community. We look forward to continuing our relationship into the future."
“So proud of where we live”
Gillian’s passion and pride for both the community and the environment around Gourock is infectious.
“It’s a privilege to live in, work in and serve the community of Gourock,” she explains. “We have the best views of the town from the fulfilment centre too! From the canteen window you can see Royal Navy ships and submarines passing by in the Clyde. It’s gorgeous looking out into the river and having the mountains in the backdrop.
“I’m so proud of where we live, it’s absolutely stunning, and our team here are exceptionally generous. They give so much of their time and their talent, then donations on top of that.
“Part of my role at Amazon is arranging stakeholder visits, including schools and charities, and I love sharing our fulfilment centre with them. We’ve also recently refurbished our auditorium and break areas, so the team at Gourock has the best working environment possible and can enjoy the beauty of this place.”
What’s next for Amazon and the Gourock community?
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, Gillian is working on new plans to bring the fulfilment centre and our employees closer to the local community.
“Before the pandemic we ran community lunches, inviting local leaders to the fulfilment centre for a tour and a meal. These are important stakeholders from across our community, so it’s vital that we get to know them, understand their needs and react to provide support.
“We’ll plan another community lunch very soon, and it will be wonderful to meet in person again. Spending time with the community and listening to these stories first-hand is a powerful way to build our special connection with Gourock, and it provides our on-site team with huge motivation."
Amazon provides support to the communities around our operations and corporate locations in the UK. We focus on community needs like food poverty and isolation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and Disaster Relief in the communities of our employees and sites.
Through Amazon in the Community, our employees build invaluable relationships with charitable organisations to provide support, advocacy and to identify new ways in which Amazon can support local communities.
Find out more about Amazon in the Community.