first direct, the UK’s leading direct bank, has launched a significant partnership with ChildLine, a service of the NSPCC, that will make it one of the charity’s biggest corporate sponsors.

The company has pledged to raise £2million for ChildLine by 2011, as well as providing mentoring services for the charity. first direct has committed to the partnership, based on the value to both organisations, including increasing staff engagement and the benefits that come from focusing on supporting one central cause.


Giving Children a Voice: back row l-r Matt Colebrook, CEO, and Michaela Wright, head of corporate and social responsibility, both from first direct, with Hayley Westenra, Classical Brits nominee and NSPCC fundraising director Kath Abrahams

Previous engagement surveys have shown that a focused approach to corporate and social responsibility significantly increases staff satisfaction. This leads to considerable benefits for the business including improved productivity levels.

In addition to raising much needed funds, first direct will be supporting a range of special projects. These include sharing its expertise in customer service techniques, enhancing staff development, and plans to answer night time calls to the charity’s donation line.

ChildLine was selected as the partner charity as its values are similar to those of first direct in terms of striving to provide a high quality of service and the company’s family orientated ethos. The business can provide significant support through its resource and skills to make a change in the same way it has in its own business.

Matt Colebrook, chief executive at first direct, said: “We are thrilled to be launching our partnership with ChildLine and getting our staff involved at all levels in this fantastic and worthy cause. The similarities between the service the charity provides and what we do day-to-day as a business means our staff can really add value and make a difference.”

Amanda Walker, People Experience Co-ordinator at first direct said: “I think it’s great that first direct is supporting a charity like ChildLine and allowing us the opportunity to help through a variety of different ways, whether it be organising fundraising activities or using our skills to help the charity improve what they do. I will certainly be getting involved as much as I can as I believe it will give the staff a sense of pride in the business by working towards supporting a common cause.”


Classical Brits nominee Hayley Westenra (centre) joins NSPCC fundraising director Kath Abraham, Michaela Wright and Matt Colebrook (first direct’s head of corporate and social responsibility and CEO respectively), to launch the bank’s campaign to raise £2m for ChildLine over the next three years. This makes first direct the charity’s biggest corporate sponsor.

Some of the ways that funds raised by first direct will help give children a voice include:

  • £4 could ensure that, when a child plucks up the courage to ask someone for help, ChildLine is there to answer their call
  • £17 could pay for the freephone costs for every call to one volunteer counsellor for a fortnight, so that children can continue to access ChildLine free of charge
  • £24 a month for a year could answer six calls from children, at least one of whom is likely to be phoning because they worried about being physically or sexually abused
  • £42 could pay for a child who may have nowhere else to turn to receive confidential, one to one counselling about any issue that’s important to them
  • £1,600 could recruit and train a volunteer ChildLine counsellor, who in their first year will be able to help up to 200 children through their worries and distress.

The launch signals the beginning of a series of organised events to help the bank reach its challenging target. The bank has already taken part in the NSPCC’s Big Bike Ride, in which 42 people from first direct cycled over 215 miles raising more than £50,000 in just two days. Future events will see staff taking part in the Great North Run and the Hike Against Cruelty to Kids (HACK).

Money raised by first direct will benefit the NSPCC’s Child’s Voice Appeal, a three-year £50m fundraising campaign to help answer more calls to ChildLine and the NSPCC Helpline for adults worried about a child. Everyone can support the appeal at