Amazon sites around the UK have been playing host to some very special guests thanks to an exciting partnership with children’s charity Barnardo’s. Barnardo’s support around 300,000 young people and parents through more than 1,000 services across the UK, providing assistance for young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents.
This Christmas, as part of Amazon’s long-term commitment to supporting local communities and providing unique learning opportunities for young people, eight Amazon sites across the UK, including Dunfermline, Doncaster and Swansea, have opened their doors to hundreds of children from the Barnardo’s network.
Their network of services support some of the most vulnerable children in the communities where they operate. Barnardo’s aim is to provide the best outcome for every child, no matter who they are or what they have been through. At Amazon, we also recognise the importance of this and are committed to ensuring all children, especially those from low-income communities in the areas where we have a physical presence, have the resources and skills they need to build their best and brightest futures.
During their visit, the boys and girls visited Santa’s Grotto, took part in Christmas-themed STEM workshops and enjoyed Fulfilment Centre tours. The activities were designed to bring Christmas cheer to children, parents, Barnardo’s staff and Amazon staff alike.
When Tony Sleight, Children’s Service Manager at Barnardo’s Short Breaks Milton Keynes, received the call from Amazon, he was immediately interested in organising an event for the children he works with.
“I got the call from Amazon and was really excited at the opportunity to do this for the kids. I was told Santa would be there, so naturally I was excited! I brought the troops together, gathered all the young people from our local area and brought them over to Amazon for a very special Kidsmas party.”
At the Dunstable Fulfilment Centre, the activities began with an Amazon Future Engineer workshop, where children and parents learned about coding by designing and programming routes for robots. Simulating the real-life robots used in Amazon’s Fulfilment Centres, the workshop enabled young people, including teenagers with learning difficulties, to engage with technology and have fun learning new skills.
At other sites around the country, some of the children took part in Hour of Code, a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify coding. The activity shows how anybody can learn the basics and have fun by coding a character to take part in a dance party.
Next up, an arts and crafts session saw the children designing the Amazon packaging of the future before they enjoyed a tour of the Fulfilment Centre with a chance to see Amazon robotics in action and to learn all about the technology that helps the team at Amazon to prepare customer orders.
After the tour, the children stepped into Santa’s Grotto where they received their own STEM-themed Christmas presents, which included LEGO sets, activity books and a Christmas message from Santa himself.
Martin Harris, whose son has language difficulties, was thrilled to see how his son opened up while on the tour.
“Barnardo’s have helped my son Logan a lot, and it’s been fantastic to come here and see this place. My son asked so many questions and I think the kids just want to work for Amazon now. The smiles on their faces was great to see. I really want to thank Amazon and Barnardo’s for putting this event together.”
During the Christmas visit, Amazon also announced that it had made a donation of £30,000 to Barnardo’s to help the charity continue its work with vulnerable children nationally.
Edmon Yohannes, General Manager of the Dunstable Fulfilment Centre, added: “Barnardo’s mission to transform the lives of the vulnerable children in our society really strikes a chord with Amazon and it’s an honour to partner with them for the Christmas STEM activity. Our team had a great time welcoming the boys and girls to our Fulfilment Centre and it was amazing to see the joy on their faces as they programmed robots and opened their presents.”
““We share the charity’s vision to create a brighter future for our children and I hope the boys and girls enjoyed their visit to Amazon. I’d like to wish the children and the team at Barnardo’s a very Merry Christmas.””
Tony Sleight of Barnardo’s closed the Dunstable party by thanking Amazon for their support in organising the event.
“I’ve worked with young people for fast-approaching 20 years and with Barnardo’s for six years now. This is the best party I’ve ever seen from any partner organisation during my career. Well done and thank you, Amazon!”