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Sunderland business offering staff flexibility to help most vulnerable during COVID-19 crisis

A Sunderland digital business is lending a hand during the COVID-19 crisis, by offering its team the time to bring some cheer to the city’s most isolated residents.

Sunderland Software Centre company Saggezza is enabling its 60-strong workforce to manage their tasks flexibly to give them the space and time to offer support to vulnerable people who may be ‘shielding’ in order to stay safe.

Members of staff from the business – a technology and consulting partner that delivers personalised, high-value solutions to accelerate business growth – has already signed up to take part in telephone befriending via Age UK, which has seen them matched with an elderly person who they call once or twice a week for a 15-minute chat. Others have signed up to NHS volunteering via the GoodSam app, and Saggezza is allowing them to work flexibly to enable them to join the volunteering effort as the nation fights the COVID-19 pandemic.

As well as volunteering, the company is donating its office fruit deliveries to Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen during the lockdown.

Lucy Harber, head of HR and operations at Saggezza (pictured), said: “The COVID-19 crisis has brought into sharp focus the need for communities – both people and businesses – to come together and support each other.  We are keen that our team have the chance to lend a hand with volunteering – something they have been very keen to do.

“We all have a role to play in the national effort to beat this virus and ensure that the most vulnerable people in society are looked after as they deal with the isolation and loneliness the lockdown has created.  We’re glad to be able to do our bit.”

The company has a track record when it comes to volunteering, having set up a free coding club in the city for young people aged eight to 11.  0Gravity – which Saggezza first launched in January 2018 having been inspired by a similar collective set up in India – invites children from across the city to learn more about computer coding, with the aim of helping them to understand the opportunities the industry offers.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “Saggezza has always been hugely generous in its support of the Sunderland community through its 0Gravity Coding Club which it has run several times, so it’s not surprising that the team are working hard to ensure people in the city and beyond are supported during this crisis.

“We have some fantastic businesses in the city, and the community spirit we are seeing is so heartening at a time when we really do need to support each other.”