The money was raised during a year-long partnership with Extern NI which also included in-kind support such as the donation of essential items to support local families, the donation of advertising space to promote the charity’s hardship appeal and the sale of old IT equipment. The total raised includes a £20,000 contribution from the bank.

The money will support two areas of the charity’s work: its coronavirus hardship appeal, helping to provide both immediate and longer term support to those impacted by coronavirus; and the renovation of the charity’s respite centre at Kinnahalla in county Down. The work will provide a more welcoming place for children and young people to stay and better meet the needs of children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Gavin Adams, Business Development Director with Extern said: “Our partnership with Danske Bank has been a vital support to Extern across the last year, particularly around the challenges presented by coronavirus. The fantastic fundraising efforts of Danske staff enabled us to quite literally save lives, and to make a real difference to families and people in our society who otherwise would have found things very difficult as a result of the pandemic.

“In addition, the funds raised by Danske in support of our Kinnahalla Family Respite Centre in the Mourne Mountains are ensuring it can become an even more welcoming safe haven for children who need to come to us in a time of crisis. We are delighted to have been able to provide training for Danske staff in relation to key challenges being faced in our communities, and we are proud that our partnership has been a very tangible example of the positive impacts which can be had in our communities when the voluntary and business sectors work together for the betterment of society.”

Aisling Press, MD of Personal Banking at Danske Bank added:

“2020 was a year like no other. We began our partnership with Extern just before the pandemic hit and could never have anticipated just how needed our support would be. The support we have been able to provide is truly down to our colleagues, who have been 100% behind the partnership since day one. Despite increased pressures supporting our own customers and adapting to radically new ways of working, our colleagues recognised they could still play a part in giving back to society, get creative and came up with lots of innovative ways to raise money to help support Extern’s work, from a virtual marathon to TikTok and singing challenges, to quizzes and head shaves. We are so proud of the commitment they have shown, a real team effort across the bank.

“For us, a successful charity partnership is one which is about more than fundraising. We are delighted to have been able to help raise awareness of Extern’s work and to share specific expertise from within our business. In turn, our colleagues benefited from the partnership, with Extern delivering a number of wellbeing sessions and customer service training and support on challenging issues like suicide awareness, drug abuse and domestic abuse.

“We know there is more to do and will continue to work closely with the voluntary sector throughout 2021 to continue to make a positive impact on society.”

Pictured: Grace O’Neill, Fundraising Manager at Extern and Claire McLernon from Danske Bank’s contact centre pictured as Claire dropped off some of the essential items donated by Danske Bank staff before Christmas to help local families in need. Claire was recently nominated for an industry Hero award for her contribution to driving the support for Extern within the contact centre and throughout the coronavirus pandemic.