FreeAgent volunteers support education in Malawi

One of our ongoing objectives at FreeAgent is to make our company the best possible place to work. We believe our mission of putting small business owners in control of their finances is meaningful and makes a real difference to people. By introducing a FreeAgent volunteering day, we can now help charities in our local community. We’re also building an ever-growing list of staff benefits and perks, as well as flexible and remote working. We also like to think we have the best office in Edinburgh, with unrivalled views that never seem to get old.

Exhibit A:

Bringing people together

One of our newer policies is the charity volunteering day. All FreeAgent staff have the opportunity to take an additional day off and spend it working with charities in the local community. It’s a great way to gain hands-on experience with the day-to-day work of charities, bringing colleagues together from different teams who may not normally work together. We have over 170 full-time people at FreeAgent and as we continue to grow it becomes harder to get to know others outside of our dedicated teams. We’ve introduced more initiatives like this, along with other team-wide events, to retain our small company vibe.

The Turing Trust

This week, five of us took advantage of our volunteering day and spent it with The Turing Trust in Edinburgh. The Turing Trust was founded by James Turing (the great-nephew of Alan Turing) and supports education in sub-Saharan Africa by reusing unwanted computer equipment from the UK and improving teacher training using ICT. The charity has a warehouse on the outskirts of Edinburgh where they receive equipment donations from companies as well as individuals. A hard-working team of volunteers then sort, audit, test and prepare all the equipment for shipment to Malawi.

Peter with a mountain of monitors!

Our team’s mission was to take a mountain of PC monitors, test each one and then box them all up for shipment. The scale of the task was daunting but after learning the ropes from operations manager Neil, we got stuck in with preparing boxes, testing the monitors, and carefully stacking the finished boxes onto pallets.

The Turing Trust labels each piece of equipment with unique identifiers, so it’s possible to track everything to its destination. The team will know which donated computer is being used by which school in Malawi — it’s pretty amazing.

Six hours, 350 monitors, 92 boxes and seven pallets later, we completed our task! It was definitely hard work (made harder with the cold,unforgiving Scottish winter blowing into the warehouse) — but it was an extremely rewarding experience and great fun to spend a day in a new environment with colleagues…even if we did end up spending the day staring at screens as usual!

If you or your company would like to donate time or equipment to The Turing Trust, you can read more about the process on their website.

Olly Headey is co-founder and CTO of FreeAgent, the UK online accounting software made specifically for freelancers, small business owners and their accountants.