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Supporting children and their communities around the world

Virgin Atlantic announces long-term charity partners from 2010

Virgin Atlantic announced that it will be working in close cooperation with two charities over the course of the next three years – the first time the airline has established long-term charity partnerships. The airline, through its Change for Children onboard collection and staff fundraising efforts, will raise many hundreds of thousands of pounds each year to support communities in Kenya, China, India and the Caribbean.

Julie Southern, Chief Commercial and Financial Officer for Virgin Atlantic, commented; “For the first time Virgin Atlantic has chosen two three-year partnerships in order to make a real tangible and sustainable difference to a number of communities around the world. The work will go beyond donations and will enable our staff and our passengers to see how some of the big global challenges are impacting people in our destinations, and to get involved in volunteering projects to support a more sustainable future for these communities.

“Over the years Virgin Atlantic has been able to make a difference to children around the world through the generosity of its passengers and the varied and determined fundraising efforts of our staff. We have no doubt that these new charities will capture the hearts and minds of our passengers and staff alike.”

In its partnership with Free The Children Virgin Atlantic will be adopting three villages in Kenya, China and India with the aim that all community needs are met equally. These are education, healthcare, alternative income and water and sanitation. The Adopt a Village model works to break the cycle of poverty by breaking down barriers to education. Virgin Atlantic will also work with Free The Children to run a programme of school tours in the UK to empower young people to get involved and become social entrepreneurs, making them feel more connected to some of the big issues our world is facing today and empowering them to make a difference.

Founder of Free The Children, Craig Kielburger, commented; “Free The Children is thrilled to have the support of the entire Virgin Atlantic family in helping to break the cycle of poverty for thousands of families around the world. It is through the commitment and dedication of patrons and staff alike that we can develop communities overseas and empower the next generation of young leaders.”

Julie Southern added; “In order to help children break free from poverty, it is necessary to empower their mothers, improve their schools and health clinics and build their water facilities. The Adopt a Village initiatives give us the opportunity to make change sustainable so that children can realise their full potential.”

Virgin Atlantic’s second long-term partner is The Travel Foundation which is an independent UK charity which helps the travel industry understand, manage and take effective action on sustainable tourism.  The money donated through staff fundraising and passenger contributions will be spent on a variety of initiatives across the Caribbean to help local people benefit from tourism and to protect the environment. They will include honey production in Jamaica, fish farming in Tobago and St Lucia and waste management projects in Barbados. These projects will provide an income for around 600 young people living on the islands over three years.

Commenting on partnership with the Travel Foundation, Julie Southern said; “As a long-haul airline flying around 800,000 passengers to the Caribbean each year we feel we have a responsibility to support sustainable tourism and provide opportunities for local people through these initiatives. Sustainability is about reducing the environmental impacts of our business as well as supporting the communities in which we operate. Through this partnership we can help young people really change their lives as well as helping to shape a sustainable future for the islands we are so proud to serve.”

Sue Hurdle, chief executive of The Travel Foundation, said; “Tourism is vitally important to people in the Caribbean. Many depend on it for their livelihoods and for the future of their communities.  So we’re delighted that Virgin Atlantic has committed to a three-year programme with the Travel Foundation which will help local people to benefit from the opportunities that tourism can bring. 

“Together, we will help young people to learn new livelihood and business skills, we’ll encourage local entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities to flourish and we’ll help protect the environment, keeping these wonderful places special for future generations of locals and visitors alike. This programme will not only change the lives of hundreds of local people for the better, it will also enhance the experience for holiday-makers.”

All flights will be collecting money on behalf of Free The Children and The Travel Foundation from this month onwards. Passengers can donate any loose change or foreign currency, and place it in the “Change for Children” envelopes.

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TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific editorial team has an experience of over 35 years in B2B travel journalism as well as in tourism & hospitality marketing and communications.