Havant and Waterlooville community champions love making a difference
Our community programme is celebrating 10 years of working with good causes to make a difference to the local area – and community champions Katy Trapani and Jacqui Benham say they're thrilled to be able to help.
Katy, pictured on the left, who works at our Havant store, often teams up with Jacqui, who's based at Asda Waterlooville, particularly to support veterans' charities.
Katy said: "The role breaks down barriers as the community see people and not just the huge store. They see that we do care about what happens in our local area. The groups that I work with love the fact that there is an 'Asda lady' to help."
Jacqui said: "The community programme is invaluable and I know it will continue to allow me to make a difference in my community. I may not have been a community champion for the whole of the 10 years of its existence but I fully intend to be for the next 10 years. Being a community champion isn’t just a job – it’s who I am. I’ve been able to provide so much for my community, but equally I have gained so much. I’m so proud to be an Asda community champion."
Jacqui joined Asda in 2016 and became a community champion the following year.
She said: "I was aware of the community programme before I started working at Asda and remember thinking how heartening it was that a retailer made such an impact in its community. When the community champion position in my store became available, I had no hesitation in applying for it. Little did I know then just how much of an impact the role would have on my life!
"The very first group I worked with was Waterlooville Food Bank. Five-and-a-half years on I’m still working with the great group of volunteers who are now also good friends.
"As well as having donation trolleys instore, I’ve also been able to provide donations of items using some of my monthly budget, as well as helping to access grants through Asda Foundation and providing a much-needed extra pair of hands through the community outreach programme. The events of the past couple of years mean that more people than ever are turning to food banks for help and I’m proud that as the community champion I can help lighten the load for families that are struggling.
"I have so many great memories from the many groups I have worked with, but I’d say my outstanding memory would be Project 71’s D-Day 75th Anniversary. To spend the day at Southwick House with the WW2 veterans I volunteer with, and also US veterans who had travelled over, was humbling and emotional. Escorting Ron to his seat was an absolute honour and my proudest moment as a community champion."
"My proudest achievement is probably securing a £27,500 grant for the Waterlooville Community Centre, which is situated in our car park, right in the heart of the Waterlooville community. It was a lot of work; liaising with the trustees and meant they were able to purchase a new kitchen which benefitted the vast array of groups who use the centre as well as meaning the elderly who come to the lunch club and enjoyed not only a “home cooked” meal but also social companionship whilst they ate.
"The difference I, through the community programme, have made in the community is immeasurable. Grants have enabled groups that may otherwise have folded due to lack of funds to continue, or they have enhanced the services provided. Facilitating instore events have allowed groups to raise awareness and/or funds. As well as offering much needed extra pair of hands, it’s a great opportunity to connect groups who can work together to make a difference in our community.
"I’ve been told many times by groups that the support Asda provide via me is invaluable. They know that Asda cares about the community and this is shown through the practical and monetary support that is provided. The job has evolved over the years and adapted to the ever-changing needs of the community, but never more so than during the pandemic. Even through lockdown I could still provide support through donations and grants. I also made phone calls to the elderly – people from both Project 71 and Live at Home Havant. I also arranged for pupils from Hart Plain Junior School to write letters to the elderly service users of Age Concern Cowplain. These small gestures meant so much to people who lived on their own and had little or no social interaction.
"I’ve made so many friends – you become invested in the groups you work with and can’t help feel a connection with both the people who run the groups and the people who attend, because you care."
Katy, who used to work as a dental nurse and in customer service roles, became our Havant store's community champion in 2017 – here she is teaming up with Rachel and Sharon from our Gosport and Fareham stores for a 24-hour fundraising marathon for Tickled Pink.
She said: "One of the first groups I reached out to was our local food bank, The Beacon. I still work with these guys regularly & would class a lot of them as friends too now. A few years ago, myself & a team of colleagues from the store set out to raise money for the local children's intensive care unit (P.I.C.U.)
"It was a regional activity but personal to the store as a colleague's granddaughter had just been successfully treated there. We raised just shy of £2,000 walking 13 miles. It was great on so many levels, raising a large amount of money and bringing colleagues together, as all were involved – walking or not.
"The way in which we work with good causes has changed over the years, especially with the pandemic, but I do have to say most of the relationships have stayed. Some people have changed role in the community, yet we have been able to work together still. For example one lady worked with the children's charity and I now work with her at the college in the mental health department.
"I am lucky to have a wonderful, supportive team here at Havant – they are always keen to join in and are so generous. For example, a recent colleague event for the Ukraine Red Cross Appeal raised £500.
"My hope for the role is that it will continue to build relationships, both out of and in store. It is a wonderful role to be able to help so many and bring so many smiles."