Across our business, Amazon employees have opportunities to build strong ties within their local areas. Some have focused on helping new citizens integrate into local communities like Byron Nana Taylor, whilst others like Mark Chew have worked with their colleagues to support local charities and strengthen their communities.
Joanne Lewis, the General Manager’s Assistant (GMA) at our fulfilment centre in Staffordshire, is no different. As part of her role Joanne has worked with nearby NHS facilities, her local council members and multiple local charities. Joanne’s goal is to support the local area and build more connections between the community and Amazon.
“I can’t wait to go to work”
Joanne has worked in other roles at Rugeley in Staffordshire and was previously part of Amazon’s Central Flow team who help organise delivery schedules and plan optimal routes. Although she enjoyed the role, Joanne wanted more interaction with her local community and decided to apply for the GMA position at her site.
“The role was a sideways step for me, but it wasn’t a career move motivated by promotions or salary. Working in the community was something that I always wanted to do. There’s a lot to be said for waking up in the morning and thinking, I can’t wait to go to work!”
“Working with the local communities surrounding our site is an integral part of my role,” said Joanne. “It starts with the relationships I have with local leaders and council members and then requires me to make sure Amazon always finds a way to go above and beyond.
“A councillor might email and ask if Amazon can provide prizes for a local raffle. We don’t just send products when this happens, we ask if we can be part of the event and find out how we can engage with those attending. That could mean Amazon associates going along to the event, representing us and providing education and information if it adds value.”
One of Joanne’s most memorable projects was working with the charity Children in Need. Joanne was approached with a request to supply some care packages for children who had been taken into protective custody. Many of the children arrived into custody with very little personal belongings and needing some essentials. Joanne worked with the charity to provide vital hygiene items from Amazon like toothbrushes, toothpaste and bodywash. Wanting to do more, she also organised additional toys and games for the children.
“After arranging the support for the children, we were honoured to receive an invite to take part in one of Children in Need’s events,” said Joanne. “It was honestly amazing and one of the most wonderful moments of my life that will stay with me forever. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces was absolutely unbeatable. Those moments are why I’m so passionate about my job, and why I enjoy every minute of it.”
Supporting women in need
Allocating Amazon funding to support local charities is a huge part of Joanne’s role. This has allowed her to work with several charities in the Staffordshire region. One of these charities is Staffordshire Women’s Aid. The organisation works with women and children who have been victims of domestic violence in the region and provides support, advice and emergency accommodation to those in need. Joanne was able to secure a financial donation and promote their activity within the community, helping to provide resources and information to women who may need Staffordshire Women’s Aid’s help.
“Part of the funding Amazon provided has gone towards keeping the Staffordshire Women’s Aid’s helpline running which is funded by charitable donations,” said Joanne. “During the pandemic, instances of domestic violence have increased, so it was absolutely vital that the helpline continued operating during that period and beyond.
“We also worked with them to promote their services and helped with events. We provided information in our fulfilment centre to raise awareness of the charity and what they offer and supported a drive to collect items for their newly built emergency accommodation centre.”
When Joanne exceeded her yearly budget for charitable allocations, she approached her General Manager with a request for additional funding to provide key items like pyjamas, kettles and bed linen for the charity’s emergency centre. With the support of her GM, she was able to approach the Regional General Manager to make the case for additional funding during critical times.
“We actually did it!” Joanne said. “It was over and above what I was allocated for my site in charitable donations, but I felt so passionately about getting the emergency accommodation up and running for the charity as fast as possible. With the support of my General Manager and other leaders at Amazon, we managed to get it approved and provide for the charity. That’s another standout moment for me. Being encouraged by leadership to go that extra mile and pushing myself when it was important allowed me to provide funding that helps local women and children feel safe.”
The work that Joanne undertook was vital in supporting Staffordshire Women’s Aid during this period. Charlotte Almond, Strategy and Business Development Manager at Staffordshire Women’s Aid reached out to thank Joanne for her support of the organisation.
“Since 1976, Staffordshire Women's Aid has been supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse”, said Charlotte. “It is thanks to the incredibly generous support of our local community and businesses, such as Amazon Rugeley, that we have been able to provide our much needed service for over 45 years.”
“Since the start of covid we have seen a 50% increase in calls to our 24 Hour Helpline, and Amazon's continued support helped ensure we could continue to provide this vital service throughout the pandemic, ensuring victims of domestic and sexual violence had somewhere to call for help, advice and support.”
Inspired by the traction and impact she has had in her role as GMA, Joanne is now coming up with even more events. After building relationships with NHS representatives through her community work with Amazon, Joanne is organising a blood drive at her fulfilment centre, with the aim to provide blood donations to NHS facilities in her area.
“This is my passion. I want to keep supporting charities that are important to my colleagues and find new ways to help beyond what’s asked of us here at Amazon. It’s a great that we have established such trusted relationships with local organisations. They know that they can always ask us for support, but I know that there is always more that can be done, and I want to keep doing more.”