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Fitness and fundraising: the perfect pair

05 Jun 2017

Staff in the Macquarie Hong Kong office are volunteering and fundraising in different ways to address an issue many employees feel strongly about – modern slavery.

In Richard’s case when he was asked to become a volunteer swim coach for Splash, a charity providing free swimming lessons to adults and children who may otherwise not have the opportunity to learn, he didn’t hesitate to get involved.

“The Splash program targets foreign domestic workers, who we know are susceptible exploitation, including indentured labour and other abuses," says Richard Douglas from Macquarie’s Corporate Operations Group.

“As well as swimming being a core life skill, the personal commitment each person makes to the program sees them grow in confidence both in and out of the water,” Richard says. “In my experience, the students absolutely love it!”

In its first two years, 700 swimmers have graduated from the Splash swimming program, and there are ambitions to teach 5,000 people to swim by 2020. With limited resources and a growing waitlist of eager swim students, the charity recently arranged a swimathon to raise much needed funds to sustain its lessons.

Richard’s colleague Nicole Millson joined the fundraising efforts, together organising four Macquarie swimathon teams - with each team of three to four swimmers plus two Splash graduates undertaking 50 metre relays over 30 minutes.

“The atmosphere on the day was fantastic,” says Richard. “There was a competitive spirit so there was lots of cheering and everyone really got into it.”

With matching from Macquarie Group Foundation the team raised $150,000 for the Splash swim school.

In another example of pairing fitness with fundraising in Hong Kong, Macquarie’s Alex Lam, Susan Clear and Miki Edelman participated in a four-day bikeathon around Taiwan. Riding eight hours a day to total 426 kilometres overall, Alex says he felt it was a great way to exercise for a good cause.

“I’ve loved cycling since I was a kid and although we trained in the lead up to the event, it was still a big effort – especially as we reached the final day,” he says. “But there was a great team spirit and we helped each other through it.”

The team raised over $50,000 for Vine Community Services Limited (VCSL), which provides housing, food, counselling and other services to refuges and asylum seekers in Hong Kong.

Alex has previously also participated in VCSL’s Angkor Wat half marathon team, recruiting three colleagues to join him in either a 10km or 21km run.

“Together, we raised more than $300,000 with Macquarie Group Foundation matching in that event,” he says. “It was a great experience working together with people from different Macquarie teams and divisions to raise funds for something that matters - educating the public that human trafficking does indeed happen in the city and to try to put an end to it in Hong Kong.”

The funds supported the VCSL initiative STOP (Stop Trafficking of People).

Image caption: From left: Macquarie's Alex Lam, Miki Edelman and Susan Clear ahead of their bikeathon around Taiwan.