Rhys Thomas

Investing in the workforce of tomorrow

Glide, an expert in in utilities, broadband and connectivity is working in partnership with the Unite Foundation, a charity that delivers a specialised accommodation scholarship scheme for care leavers and estranged young people at university. We spoke with Rhys Thomas, Customer Experience Director, Glide to find out more.

Please can you tell us more about Glide’s partnership with Unite Foundation and the benefits this offers?
Glide has been working with the Unite Foundation since 2015, and we’ve done a range of projects with the charity over the years. In the past we’ve provided financial support, but more recently, Glide has taken on summer placements for the Unite Foundation, providing work experience in a variety of roles across the company.

We’ve placed students in sales, service, operations, legal and even HR. We have also provided work experience to foundation scholars, and in return have had the pleasure of working with some very bright, passionate and committed individuals. Each of them has added great value to the company over the summer, all while being able to develop an understanding of the professional world, and nurture skills that they can take forward with them in their future careers.

This year, we provided 27 Dell laptops that were given as prizes to students who are being supported by the Unite Foundation. These students are being encouraged to create their own community and feel better connected to other estranged care students across the UK. Glide’s partnership with the Unite Foundation is something that we are really proud of. The charity is doing some amazing work and it’s great to be able to support that in any way we can.”

Why was this set up?
To put it simply, we partnered with the Unite Foundation to support a wonderful charity that provides opportunities by delivering a unique accommodation scholarship scheme for care leavers and estranged young people at university.

Over the past seven years, we have been able to work really closely with the team at the foundation. We’ve developed a really strong relationship with Helen Arber, Head of Operations at Unite Foundation, and Glide has always had an Executive Sponsor of the relationship with the charity. Currently, Our Chief Commercial Officer, Meri Braziel, is holding down that role.

How is Glide continuing to support the charity to deliver professional and personal development opportunities for its students?
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve taken on a number of summer placements this year to help these students gain some really valuable experience in the working world. It helps students to better understand what they want from their careers and get a feel for what to expect when they make that leap.

Securing your first role after education can be stressful, and in an increasingly competitive market, having some level of experience under your belt can go a long way in helping you gain the edge over other candidates.

We’ve had great success with this initiative. It has gone down really well both for Glide itself, in gaining some highly valuable team members over the summer period, as well as the students who are benefitting from the experience. We are currently planning to extend this process in 2023.

Who does The Unite Foundation work in partnership with?
The Unite Foundation works in partnership with 26 universities across England and Scotland and has awarded over 500 scholarships since 2012. This year, the charity marked its tenth anniversary, and the charity hosted a celebratory event on 30th June to toast its collective achievements over the past decade and set out ambitious plans for growth.

It is a really exciting time for the foundation as it continues to grow its partner base and extend its reach to even more estranged young people and care leavers. Glide will continue to main its partnership with The Unite Foundation and we are looking forward to playing our role in helping the charity continue to flourish.

Why is this partnership important to Glide?
Helping the larger community is really important to us as a company. We believe that every young person, irrespective of background, deserves equal access to education, and The Unite Foundation is working incredibly hard to enable that and offer students equal opportunity.

It really is an excellent cause, and the success that the foundation is having will only ever benefit our future. We will continue to offer our support to the charity and celebrate the great work that it does.

How does Glide plan to be part of the charity’s future plans?
We will continue our support for The Unite Foundation by offering more summer placement opportunities moving forward. We also plan to continue our financial and technical support. In addition to our current activity, we are also looking into branching out and potentially offer mentoring to students whilst they begin their education and eventually, their career.”

How did Glide get involved in this project?
We first found out about the charity seven years ago. It came from our partnership with Unite Students, delivering Wi-Fi services to its residencies across the United Kingdom. We quickly recognised the important work that The Unite Foundation was doing, and saw the vision of what it aimed to achieve.

Glide works closely with both students and the higher education institutions that set them on their way for their career. Glide and the Unite Foundation are aligned in our goals to help young adults receive equal opportunity regardless of their background, so it only made sense for us to do whatever we could to help the cause.

What is Glide’s view on encouraging a younger workforce and why is this important to both the company and more widely within the channel?
Glide delivers a large percentage of its services to the Higher Education space and we have always strived to ensure that we have a workforce in tune with our customer base. Glide will be launching an official Apprenticeship programme within the year to attract young talent into the business and to further complement the summer placements already offered.

It’s very important to Glide to have a younger workforce providing a different perspective and new ideas to help tackle the opportunities and challenges facing us as an organisation. They provide energy, initiative, innovation, and flexibility and add considerably to an already flourishing culture.

How can other partners within the channel get involved in similar projects?
You don’t have to provide services directly to Unite to support the foundation, just contact the team and see where you can help. Equally, investigate the Higher Education space for other charities such as The Access Project and IntoUniversity, and see where you can offer support. Another great charity worthy of anyone’s support is Student Minds.

What plans are in place for the future of this project?
Glide will continue its support of the Foundation by continuing to provide summer placements, as well as financial and technical support. As mentioned earlier, we would also be interested in expanding our current offerings by potentially offering mentoring to students during the early stages of their careers.

The foundation has been really grateful for our support. We’ve provided gifts of technology to get people connected, and the summer student internships have gone down really well on both sides. They have proven particularly valuable for care experienced and estranged students who are putting themselves through university without family support.

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