Not Just IT

Words and pictures are not enough to describe today, I have been privileged to witness something very special indeed.

Our journey today has felt like a week of experiences in one day, in a good way. First we visited a school sponsored by Sopra Steria, the Bhuvana Krishna matriculation hr sec school in Chennai, where we were greeted by the school elders and a marching band.

Here I cut the ribbon to their new computer room, with 40 computers provided by Sopra Steria, and met some of the students who then had lunch with us. It was a wonderful experience seeing first hand the difference that the Sopra Steria CSR programme makes here in India and not just with IT. The programme also sponsors the schools and Sopra Steria staff volunteer to work at these schools, where they:

  • Mentor the kids through their education
  • Support the families and communities
  • Run summer camps
  • Organise sports days
  • Run arts and crafts workshops
  • Provide guidance on life after school
  • Provide female guidance on life as a woman in India.

Sopra Steria didn’t even start helping this school with IT equipment until later. Not Just IT.

After lunch we were shown around the Sopra Steria Campus; set in 27 acres of landscaped gardens, before meeting the scholars and alumni from the schools in Chennai. Some of the proud parents were also there. One girl was studying two degree courses through Sopra Steria, and was looking to become a chartered accountant in the public sector.

Lastly, we visited the Punjab association destitute home for children; an orphanage, where we were met by 200 children of all ages from 5 to 18. We were then honoured by the lighting of candles as a symbolisation in readiness for Diwali, where Ganesh was surrounded by rings and rows of candles. After this ceremony a bell rang and all the children ran off. They came running back to the dining room with their plates where we helped serve them their dinner, which was provided by Sopra Steria. The children in the home were incredibly sweet, wanting to engage with us and to see photos of my home in Tockenham and the countryside of the UK.

This home really was a home; it felt just like a big family. All the kids were smiling and saying positive things about Sopra Steria and the home. One girl we met earlier at the scholars’ event was now studying to be a lawyer and is in the 2nd year of her course. She is a bright student who was originally a resident at the home.

Authored by John Gough.

An early start for an experience of a lifetime

Wednesday Kim and I had an early start; our taxi took us to the airport at 5am so we were both up at 4am – 11.30pm UK time!

We arrived at the hotel just in time to join the Sopra Steria Community Day in Pune a Share & Support Day in the Sheraton Hotel Pune, the ceremonies started with the lighting of a Deepam, which signifies the removal darkness from the mind and heart of a person. An oil Deepam signifies the light of knowledge, which dispels the darkness of ignorance. It shines itself and causes the objects around it, to shine due to its reflection by giving knowledge, wisdom and intelligence.

After introduction from Gayathri the programme began which included a quiz competition between 8 Sopra Steria supported schools and amazing cultural performances by primary school children and scholars and Sopra Steria staff and even hotel staff. Apart from representatives of schools, children, scholars, we as representatives of 6 countries across Europe also joined in the celebrations with a sing along to Head Shoulders, knees and toes, in each of our native languages, which had everyone on their feet dancing to the same song.

Anil Gokarn was the environment speaker – founder of ProEarth Ecosystems in who process 3.5 tons per day of organic waste processing across 40 odd locations in areas of Pune. His talk and video  on  environmental issues, and particularly climate change, was well received and certainly brought home how this is a global problem that everyone needs to be involved with, seeing so many of the young generations in the room.

The dancing, singing, and guitar playing was of the highest standard and again brought tears to my eyes watching such beautiful performances. Something Kim and I would not have missed for the world. It was amazing to know these young students and scholars had put so much into not only their own educations, but outside of study preparing for this day.

After the event, we had Indian buffet and were able to speak with all of the scholars, students and teachers. The day for me was special, these kids are following their dreams and knowing that Sopra Steria is there helping making the journey even better with the support and encouragement of the SSIF was an honour to see. 

Proof of this was shown in one of the posters at the event of the 660 beneficiaries of the scholarships.

  • 422 completed courses
  • 245 engineering courses completed
  • 5 medicine completed
  • 410 other courses completed
  • With 238 still benefitting from the programme 

Dreams can happen

By John Gough

Discovering the benefits of giving

Hello. My name is Kim Slocombe and I am a Project Finance Analyst (PFA) in the Finance department.  I have worked for the company via a number of takeovers, starting with F.I., through Xansa, Steria and now Sopra Steria, for the last 26 years.

Three years ago in January, I felt that my children were all grown up and I was not needed as much for them so I decided to start some volunteering work. I was at a fundraising event for Launchpad, which is a Prevention of Homelessness charity in Reading, UK and enquired about volunteering for them. I was accepted and have been spending 3 hours a week helping in their Education, Training and Employment Hub (ETE). 

Launchpad deal with clients who are homeless, in threat of homelessness and, those with housing problems in general.  They offer support; guidance and temporary accommodation to help people get started again.  In the ETE Hub, I help clients write their CVs and apply for work, whilst helping them with basic computer skills so they can continue on their own. 

We also offer skills training courses for computing and keyboard, Construction certificate course practice and Health and Hygiene Food courses. It has been a time of great satisfaction for me and given me a chance to try something new whilst being of some use. It is for my work with Launchpad that I was nominated and won the Sopra Steria “Volunteer of the Year” award. 

I feel very humbled and grateful that my meagre efforts have been recognised in such a fantastic way.  The prize trip to India promises to be a whirlwind tour of the fabulous work done by the Sopra Steria India Foundation (SSIF).

It will be a chance to see for myself what the SSIF, led by Gayathri Mohan, Head of CSR, do for the children of India. There are projects happening in Noida, Pune and Chennai, which help put around 70,000 children through school and university each year. That we as a company help so many disadvantaged children and families is just an amazing feat. The hard work and care shown by Gayathri and her team should be an inspiration to us all.  I hope to see on my trip how all the projects are helping the children get an education and a chance to elevate their living standards for themselves and their families in the very hard world that they live in.  I have heard of the elation with which Gayathri is received when she visits the schools and pupils her team helps and hope to witness the eagerness to learn, happiness and enthusiasm that going to school gives them.  I suspect this trip is going to be a wonderful experience that opens my eyes to a way of life very different from my own.

By Kim Slocombe

My thoughts on the Sopra Steria India Foundation and the volunteering work we do to make a difference

This year I was lucky enough to be nominated for an award for my voluntary work and was selected as one of the Sopra Steria Volunteers of the Year for 2018 where I won an all-expenses-paid trip to India, to see the amazing work of the Sopra Steria India Foundation (SSIF), I leave for this exciting trip in a weeks’ time.

Over the nearly 2 weeks I am there, I will visit the international award-winning Community programmes run by Gayathri Mohan, Head of CSR for Sopra Steria India. Every year, Gayathri’s programme supports around 70,000 children through school, while also providing free lunches, access to drinking water and toilet facilities, and a huge number of other educational and social initiatives.

She also runs the Sopra Steria Scholarship programme, where we fund the full university education and living costs for a number of the brightest students from schools we support. So far more than 500 pupils through higher education programmes thanks to the Sopra Steria scholarship programme.

My volunteering

I volunteer every week at the Great Western Hospital Falcon Ward in Swindon, visiting patients on the major stroke unit, providing much needed company for individuals who may have had no visitors, as well as helping with feeding for patients who have little or no mobility.

I was inspired to volunteer after I had fought a very personal battle caring for my sister with Motor Neurone Disease. It was whilst visiting her in the hospital that that I picked up a leaflet asking for volunteers, that was over 4 years ago now. I absolutely love doing it!

I know some of the patients I see have not had a visitor all day, very often I spend time with each person chatting and putting the world to rights, chatting about travel, gardening or cooking before helping the nurses with their feeding and making cups of tea. Just simple things that I know make a difference, being the major stroke unit there are many patients there who struggle with communications and that takes time, time that the nurses don’t always have.

In addition to my work at the hospital which I am still doing and I also volunteer for a local group called “The Achievers” (Adult LD Group) this is a voluntary group in Swindon that gives adults with Learning difficulties a social context in which to interact with other adults and care receivers. We once a month arrange a social get together for the ‘members’ this varies from a meal at a local pub, cinema or theatre visits, day trips to local amenities e.g. Longleat or a canal boat trip. The members of the group have many varied disabilities from eating and drinking difficulties, communication and hearing difficulties, autism, complex physical needs, long term health conditions, behaviour that challenges others, sensory disability & mental health illness. This is a lovely group currently there are about 40 members in the Swindon area and we have just had a summer picnic and walk and are planning a Christmas meal and a trip to the panto in January, I give my time on this the day trips are usually at the weekends and evening functions I do after work.


By John Gough