Launched in 2012, the Günter Geyer Award for Social Conscience shines the spotlight on Group Companies’ commitment to supporting social causes. Named after the Supervisory Board President of Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein, the accolade is awarded each year to three VIG Group companies which have provided outstanding service to the community through their social activities, or those of their employees.
Kilometre for kilometre: staff at InterRisk in Poland get moving to help people in need
Polish Group company InterRisk is a long-standing supporter of social causes across the country. The company involves its employees in its CSR activities to the greatest possible extent, and the annual Charity Run held since 2014 is a good example. InterRisk employees raise money for every kilometre they cover in support of the social running event, with the proceeds donated to charities. Both participant numbers and the amount raised have increased steadily over the years. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, and with an eye on the wellbeing of all participants, the company decided not to stage the run in the usual format in 2020. Instead, employees took to the streets in 21 different towns and cities across Poland, either alone or in small groups, recording the distance they covered on an app. In total, they clocked up an impressive 2,228km, generating donations amounting to EUR 10,000. The money was split between eight organisations selected by InterRisk employees. The recipients included charities that support disadvantaged and sick children as well as victims of violence and sexual abuse, and an animal welfare organisation.
In addition, during the pandemic InterRisk has donated money and equipment such as sanitiser and masks to hospitals and care facilities. The company plans to use the EUR 50,000 prize money for the 2021 Gold Günter Geyer Award for Social Conscience to help finance two custom vehicles specially designed to transport donated blood. This is part of a wider project by the Polish government aimed at making the country self-sufficient in terms of blood and blood components.
Making the roads safer for children
The 2021 Silver Günter Geyer Award for Social Conscience went to BTA Baltic in Latvia for its tireless work supporting young people and promoting road safety for children. In 2020 the company joined forces with the ‘We build Parks’ association to initiate the BTA Velomaster project (BTA Velozinis in Latvian), which designs unique cycling proficiency tracks for children and young people. With an emphasis on fun and enjoyment, the aim is to raise awareness of bike safety with a range of features that replicate an urban environment. In 2021, these innovative facilities were built in eight Latvian towns and cities. The respective local authorities provided the space for the tracks, while BTA Baltic funded the training elements on the Velomaster routes – aimed at youngsters of all ages, the BTA Velomaster tracks across Latvia feature more than 100 obstacles and other structures, covering a total area of around 1,000m2. The tracks include some of the most common road signs and markings, as well as obstacles that cyclists typically face in urban settings, such as potholes and different road surfaces.
In addition, for many years BTA Baltic has collaborated with Latvian World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) partner Pausales Dabas as well as the country’s nature conservation agency, a sign of its ongoing commitment to long-term environmental protection. The www.darudabai.lv website, which was launched with the support of BTA Baltic and other organisations, highlights the nature reserves that are particularly at risk and where help is needed to protect them. BTA employees are also keen supporters of the “Do for Nature” initiative as part of Social Active Day, and they rolled up their sleeves again in October 2020 – 80 employees cleaned up several kilometres of the Krimulda nature park and planted oak seedlings.
Swift, bureaucracy-free support for the most vulnerable members of society
The winner of the 2021 Bronze Günter Geyer Award for Social Conscience was Wiener Osiguranje in Croatia, which was singled out for its rapid and highly efficient support for victims of the earthquake that struck the country in late 2020. The catastrophe caused huge damage – almost 90% of the buildings in the town of Petrinja were razed to the ground. The hospital in the port town of Sisak, where the Kupa and Sava rivers meet, was particularly badly affected. The members of Wiener Osiguranje’s Managing Board visited the hospital to see the damage for themselves, and also held talks with administrators to identify options for providing meaningful support. Wiener Osiguranje donated EUR 66,365 to the earthquake victims, with the majority of the money used to get the hospital in Sisak up and running again. But it is not just natural disasters like this that hit the weakest members of society particularly hard; the coronavirus pandemic has also had a huge impact. This is why the company chose to support a project entitled “Equal opportunities for all”: the initiative provides internet access for children from low-income families, as well as electronic equipment for home schooling – a total of 50 laptops were supplied – and weekly lessons focused on this topic for children.
Wiener Osiguranje also supports the organisation ‘Mali zmaj’, which is dedicated to improving quality of life for deprived children and those at risk of poverty; in one such example, the company has made office space available in central Zagreb for the charity to use free of charge. On Social Active Day, Wiener Osiguranje employees renovated and decorated the space to make it suitable for children. Besides arranging outings with sports and leisure activities for the children, ‘Mali zmaj’ also organises professional learning support and psychotherapy for youngsters who need it.