Injecting hope and positivity as well as giving back to society is the vision that drives its philanthropic arm as the Swire Group marks its 150th year in Hong Kong.
A portfolio of focused altruistic projects
Having operated relatively under the radar for the past 37 years, the Swire Group Charitable Trust is introducing TrustTomorrow, a new initiative covering a slew of purely altruistic projects that support community needs. As a long-term resident of Hong Kong, the initiative shows that the Group is committed to the city and is here to stay.
While TrustTomorrow continues to focus on its three longstanding core pillars of Education, Marine Conservation and the Arts, the team, headed by Tina Chan, Head of Philanthropy, has diverted its energy in recent months to zero in on COVID-19 projects to meet the needs of the moment.
Three key priorities to combat COVID-19
“With our lives disrupted by the pandemic, we quickly rolled out our previous round of food and hygiene support back early this year with HK$15 million worth of projects that reflected our bottom-up approach. We looked at the pressing problems and worked with various non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners and change-makers to come up with solutions for vulnerable groups,” Tina explains. During the first half of the year, TrustTomorrow funded over 400 organisations, benefitting more than 122,000 disadvantaged members of the society.
Having received positive feedback from both NGOs and beneficiaries for the previous round of fundamental, but practical and timely assistance, the TrustTomorrow team is launching another round of COVID-19 support in late September. In addition to extending the food and hygiene programme, the latest round will cover family wellbeing and building social capital for its partnered NGOs with funding estimated at HK$14 million.
Providing fresh food to the needy
Beneficiaries much appreciate fresh food, and to this end, TrustTomorrow will continue to deliver caring fresh food packs with vegetables and chilled meat to those in need in five districts served by St. James Settlement FOOD-CO (SJS FOOD-CO). “We put a lot of thought into the packs to bring heartwarming and thoughtful elements into this programme. By working with a nutritionist, each food pack is a menu in itself. The delivery will be made three times a week, covering enough food for seven days. Reusable cloth face masks, hand-sewn by local women, are also provided to beneficiaries as a one-off,” Tina says.
The food programme with SJS FOOD-CO will also see the launch of 54 ‘Joyful Pop-up’ stores in three districts from March to December 2021, with redemption cards provided for underprivileged families to redeem food and necessities. “The pop-up stores will be open once a week for those in need to come and choose what they want,” continues Tina.
Protecting living spaces with antimicrobial coating sprays
In terms of hygiene, TrustTomorrow is partnering with a company which owns Germagic, a germicidal technology invented by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “We have commissioned them to provide the coating spray to 18 special educational needs schools with boarding services, as well as to 80,000 tenants living in sub-divided units in districts including Tsz Wan Shan, Ngau Tau Kok and Kwun Tong. This project is a one-off, and the sprays last for 90 days,” says Tina.
Enhancing family wellbeing with ‘See You Online’
The latest round of COVID-19 support will also see the launch of the ‘See You Online’ programme to enhance family wellbeing. This new initiative is divided into two parts, with one available for NGO partners and the other open to the public. “The spirit of the programme is to roll out a series of light-hearted, educational and positive videos to support anyone in need from November. In doing so, we aim to bring some positiveness to the society,” Tina says.
The ‘See You Online’ videos that are open for public viewing will be uploaded to the TrustTomorrow Facebook page. The public will have the opportunities to meet some orchestral musicians and even attend yoga classes, and storytelling and art sessions.
Building social capital for NGO partners
The pandemic is a disruptive threat to the aids sector. The TrustTomorrow team has therefore found a way to help beef up NGOs’ digital capabilities so they can sustain their operations, continue to raise funds and provide much-needed services. “We have teamed up with digital experts to conduct audits on a few selected NGOs to help them understand where they currently stand in terms of digital strategy, as well as how they can improve to survive under this new normal created by COVID-19 and social distancing. We are also looking into arranging webinars for the NGO sector to learn about various topics that can help with their digital transformation. Meanwhile, we are also partnering with Microsoft and Cyberport to run a new project named ‘AI for Good’. The project will connect marine-focused NGOs with startup companies specialised in using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to develop impactful solutions for marine conservation,” Tina adds.
In total, the latest round of TrustTomorrow’s COVID-19 aid initiatives will collectively benefit over 100,000 Hong Kong people through 85 organisations. But more than providing pandemic relief, TrustTomorrow will continue to see new programmes that aim to bring positive and meaningful change to the community in the areas of Education, Marine Conservation and the Arts. “Our hope is that TrustTomorrow will not only support Hong Kong during the present challenging times but also bring lasting benefits and opportunities so our children may enjoy a better tomorrow,” concludes Tina.
Source: South China Morning Post|20200928