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Inclusion is in my blood

Posted by Ste Bauman, 9 months ago

2 min read

It’s early evening, on a quiet, unremarkable Birmingham side-street. People are gathering with an air of expectation. The aroma of hot food fills the air. It’s simple, nourishing fare: rice and lentils, or pizza and chips. Alongside their meal, people pick up snacks, clothes, and other essentials.

This is the daily “homeless feed” run by the Midland Langar Seva Society. “Langar” is the Sikh term for a free common kitchen, and all the food is donated and prepared by volunteers.

One regular face amongst them is Pam Sheemar. For nearly five years, Pam, who works in Relationship Management for Commercial Banking, has helped out at the event every month. She arrives with her own contribution of samosas.

Since getting involved, Pam has also raised over £8,000 for the cause through efforts as varied as sponsored bike rides and climbing Snowdon.

The samosas aren’t the only thing Pam brings along. She’s mustered hundreds of colleagues to assist over the years, bagging the first Friday of every month for them to join the volunteering.

Since she got the event on our map, local colleagues have clamoured to take part. ‘People get really excited to be involved – raising money, donating the food and joining the feed as a team through the bank’s volunteer days,’ says Pam.

Teams are often surprised by what they find. Despite the title, the event has expanded beyond homeless people, to support anyone who’s finding it hard to make ends meet.

‘One regular I meet is a grandmother who looks after six grandchildren after school. She comes to pick up crisps for them, because she can’t afford to buy them.’

‘The feed is such an inclusive event. And it plays into my passions, for paying it forward and helping someone less fortunate where you can.’

Pam brings another perspective to the charity effort. As a local magistrate, she sometimes finds homeless people standing before her in the dock. ‘If you can alleviate some of their pain and hurt, you might prevent people from having to steal so they can eat,’ she says.

Her drive for inclusiveness extends from the courtroom to the classroom. She presents to young people as ambassador at a local college, giving them an inspiring role model to learn from.

In the workplace too, she’s pushing the boundaries. ‘Banking traditionally isn’t that inclusive,’ she says. ‘NatWest Group has opened up a real dialogue about that.’

With the active support of Abe Tilling, Regional MD for Corporate & Commercial Coverage, Pam is doing her bit to change that. She’s currently breaking new ground on a pilot accelerated management programme, designed to open up the technical skills of corporate banking to talented people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Pam admits to occasional fear of failure, due to the unprecedented and challenging nature of the programme. But it’s an enabler to inclusiveness, and therefore close to her heart.

‘Inclusion is in my blood,’ Pam declares. ‘If we thought about everything through the lens of inclusion and diversity, we would see a much more equitable world’.

Being inclusive is just one of the five values we champion, find out more about our values.

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