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The Generali Foundation has been active for almost 25 years. What were the reasons for its establishment?

The foundation was brought to life with the goal of mitigating the risks that we saw in the insurance sector, to enhance people’s safety. Thus the foundation’s primary goals have been set to support road safety, health preservation, healing and rescue activities, as well as the protection of children. These goals have not changed since 1995, we work with our own initiatives as well as co-operating with partners that are active in these areas.

Generali and the RBIF teamed up to a significant extent in 2018. What prompted Generali to get involved with the work of the RBIF in the first place?

The pioneer was one of our colleagues, Eszter Balázs, who had long been supporting the RBIF and has also involved her clients in the gesture of helping, by offering a certain part of her income from each insurance policy. That innovative way of inclusion in a collective charitable move prompted us to get to know more about the foundation and we found its goals very much in common with ours.

What does Generali benefit from its connection to the RBIF?

We believe that companies working in a professional business environment have a responsibility to help social initiatives with both our knowledge and resources. I think the members of the RBIF demonstrate a best practice in terms of how we can team up to help make an impact on those in need, especially in the health sector.

Looking ahead, what are your future charity-related plans?

As deputy CEO of the insurance company, I would like to mention our global The Human Safety Net community initiative, focused on helping new-born babies who are born with asphyxia, a condition of scarce oxygen during birth. We are working together with hospitals, civil organisations and parents to help these families.

What would you say to any other company that is considering sponsoring the RBIF and its activities?

We were more than satisfied to have been able to contribute to the RBIF’s goal to provide special monitors for the Péterfy Sándor children’s hospital’s neonatal department to help prematurely born babies get even better care.  We highly respect the foundation’s restless ambition to help where it is most needed

In recent years the RBIF has been intensifying its activities beyond the boundaries of the capital Budapest, and 2018 was no exception.

As part of the SME Sponsorship Scheme, and as ever with the medical advice from Professor György Fekete, former director of the 2nd Department of Paediatrics at SOTE II in Budapest, we got in contact with Ferenc Papp, consultant physician and head of department at the paediatric unit in Hódmezővásárhely in southern Hungary.

Having teamed up with the RBIF in 2017, the staff at Inter Relocation Kft. again demonstrated their willingness to get involved with this ever-growing scheme organised by the RBIF. Such was the donation provided by Inter Relocation, and doubled by funds raised at the 2018 Burns Supper, that we were able to buy not just two but in fact three infusion pumps.

During our visit to the hospital in Makó in December 2018, where one of the pumps is already in use, Dr Papp explained that “the pump enables IV fluids and also medicines to be dosed very accurately compared to gravity-based drips”, which really enhances the standard of care. Until the RBIF donation was handed over, the hospital in Makó did not have any such infusion pump. The other two pumps are now also being used in Hódmezővásárhely.

In Makó, the RBIF represented by Chairman Douglas Arnott was accompanied by HM Ambassador Iain Lindsay, Honorary Patron of the RBIF, and Stuart McAlister, Managing Director at Inter Relocation Kft.

Stuart revealed he was delighted Inter Relocation were able to continue their involvement in the SME Scheme:

“Our sponsorship of individual projects, under the stewardship of the RBIF, plays a key role in Inter Relocation’s CSR program. It is incredible that we can make a clear and measurable difference to a hospital in need, by investing in key equipment. I was honoured to have the chance to meet with the staff of the hospital in Makó and to learn first-hand how our donation makes a difference to the staff of the paediatric department, and the children they treat there.”

Very early one cold December morning, when it was still dark, we hit the road to Zalaegerszeg in western Hungary, a place hitherto notable to me only for the unpronouncability of its name. 

I’ve since nailed the pronunciation (I had plenty of time in the car).  Anyway, I was undertaking a day of calls and public engagements on behalf of the Embassy in Zala.  And the most important event I took part in, as a member of the RBIF Curatorium, was the handover of a donation of a bronchoscope to the Zala County Szent Rafael hospital’s paediatric department with Dougie Arnott (Chairman) and Dennis Diokno of FirstMed.  This donation was enabled through our SME Sponsorship Scheme, with FirstMed teaming up with RBIF in this instance to double the value of the donation.

We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the Paediatrics Department by Dr László Gárdos, Head of Department.  There was a festive feel as, on 6 December, all the doctors and nurses were dressed in Santa hats for St Nicholas.  It was touching to meet some patients and their parents, and to witness the serenity and dedication of the staff.  Seeing the newborns was of course a particular joy.  We also saw the helipad of which the hospital was very proud – but sadly (or perhaps happily) no helicopters in sight.

Dr Gárdos received the bronchoscope on behalf of the hospital.  They have not, until now, had their own bronchoscope and he explained how it will help them diagnose a multitude of breathing problems much more easily and treat airway blockages when, for example, babies or children ingest small objects.

Dr Gabriella Halász, President of the Hospital, said it was a huge honour to receive the equipment.  In fact, I felt humbled by the whole occasion and thought, on the contrary, the honour was ours.

Caitlin Jones
Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy
Curatorium Member

The Péterfy Sándor Street Hospital, located in District 7, is one of the larger hospitals in Budapest with nearly 1,600 beds, where patients can be treated for an array of ailments and conditions. The Péterfy Sándor Hospital has been operating since 1848, which also makes it one of Budapest’s older hospitals.

The RBIF has been working closely with the hospital for a number of years, with its focus being on the improvement and provision of facilities and equipment on the neonatal wing, which treats and cares for newborn children, primarily premature babies. Despite the dedication of its workers, patrons and benefactors the hospital still struggles to provide the most up-to-date and holistic care for its patients. So one of the RBIF’s priorities is to support the neonatal wing by helping to equip it with the required technology, in order to ensure the comfort and survival of many of the prematurely newborn babies they receive.

The neonatal wing is run by Dr Gabor Baross who, with the support of his team, can deal with anything between 500 – 600 premature babies every year. Given the wing can only accommodate 20/30 babies at any one time, if one was to say the wing is running at capacity, it would be somewhat of an understatement. Dr Baross also explained that to compound this problem, it is getting harder and harder to recruit and retain skilled and qualified nurses, to care for the newborn babies, as they are being tempted to leave Hungary and move abroad.

 

What defines a premature baby who needs the help of Dr Baross and his colleagues? A premature baby is anything weighing between 500 grams to 1 kilogram. A baby born under 500 grams has a 20/30% survival rate, and then only a 30% chance of being healthy. Once a newborn is brought to the wing Dr Baross ensures he/she is checked extensively, and then placed in one of the incubators – presuming there is free capacity. Depending on the diagnosis, the baby will then spend anything between 4 weeks to 4 months within the confines of this incubator. Dr Baross welcomes visits from the parents, but this needs to be managed carefully as there can be up to 5 incubators in 1 room, meaning circulation space can be at a premium.

 

As a direct result of your generous help and contributions in 2018, we were able to buy and provide Dr Baross with eight top of the range bedside monitors, which is excellent news given our target was five. This has greatly helped the unit, and made the monitoring of the babies’ welfare far, far easier, as these new machines can measure blood pressure ECG, temperature and blood oxygen levels using one lead only. The older version required 4 machines with 4 separate leads. Not only was this inefficient, but it made holistic diagnosis / check-ups more complicated and timely.

 

What next? The hospital asks the government for support every year, but so far it is only patrons like the RBIF and others who provide them with support. The objective for 2019 is to acquire 3 or 4 more monitors as well as provide support for the wing to construct parent rooms. Despite Dr Baross winning an award for the most “Baby Friendly Hospital” in 2018, the department is still tired and limited. There is some redundant space at the end of the wing which can be converted into spaces for parents to stay with their babies. Currently there are 2 rooms (for mothers only) and fathers can only visit for a few hours every day. Fathers are not allowed to stay the night, primarily due to capacity reasons. Clearly this proposed construction for further parent rooms is (almost) prohibitively expensive, but with the support of the RBIF’s sponsors and guests there is always hope.

The keen-eyed among you will have noticed that the RBIF launched a brand-new website in 2018, a platform that makes it much easier for us to let you know exactly what we are doing and helps us to interact more with everyone on social media.

Designing and building a new website is not an easy task, and not a cheap one either, which is why we were extremely grateful to Edit McAlister at Expat Press Magazine and Inter Relocation.

Why did you decide to help the RBIF with its new website?

When the RBIF Chairman Douglas Arnott asked me whether I could help with this project, there was nothing to decide, I had to say yes. I’ve been attending the Burns Suppers for almost ten years as a guest, and I know just how much valuable work goes into running the foundation.

I really appreciate, and hold in high regard, the work carried out by the RBIF. The purpose of the fundraising is to help sick and underprivileged children, so for me it was a no-brainer: if the foundation needed my expertise, I was happy to give it to them.

The new website helps us communicate our fundraising activity for sick and underprivileged children to as wide an audience as possible.

Edit, many would think Expat Press Magazine is just another website for expats in Hungary, but it’s a bit more than that, isn’t it?

Edit McAlister, Managing Editor and Director of Marketing / photo: Brigitta Kátay-Tóth

It is important for us that our readers receive content that does not come across as simple advertising, but which conveys credible information and is genuinely helpful.

The majority of our writers are expats themselves, who have lived in the country for a long time and know it inside out. For example, the places that we write about are not just ones we have visited once, they have become regular haunts and we share tried-and-tested experiences with our readers.

We believe it is crucial that our readers should really feel at home in Hungary, with all its positive and negative nuances. Our Budapest Expats group on Facebook is essentially an extension of the magazine, where people can go to for further help and guidance from us.

Why have interactive websites and social media become so important?

The two are intertwined. There are many professional articles out there on this, but in a nutshell, social media posts provide an opportunity for the public to find your new web content and click through to your site, and an active social media presence builds relationships with your audience.

An interactive web design engages visitors with a more relevant experience. It’s the difference between talking at someone and starting a conversation.

What would you say to anyone thinking of offering their own specialist services to help the RBIF?

You cannot put a price on the activity that the RBIF performs. Some might question the importance of corporate social responsibility activities.

I believe that giving back to the community and helping those in need should be an integral part of our lives nowadays, both at a personal and at a business level. For me at least, this isn’t even a question.

 

 

In 2018 the RBIF and its supporters and sponsors helped renovate a nursery in one Budapest’s most disadvantaged districts.

The Wesley János nursery in Dankó utca, district 8 in Budapest, accommodates many children during the day who for various reasons outwith their control are unable to attend other nurseries perhaps closer to their home.  The nursery building was in a poor state, and Zsuzsanna Bozó along with Patrick McMenamin, two long-standing supporters of the RBIF, decided they wanted to do something about it. The project got off to a fantastic start with a donation of GBP 5000 from the Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal.

Renovating an entire nursery is no mean feat, but thanks to Zsuzsa’s organisation skills she soon had a band of helpers, volunteers and organisations, including the RBIF, willing to get involved.

Unfortunately, soon after the work began it turned out that the nursery was in a far worse state than had originally been assumed, particularly the walls, and indeed the building was a health hazard to the children.

It was a setback, but soon the organisers had found the tradesmen to complete the extra work, getting rid of the mould, and the renovation was back on track.

This did mean, however, that a large chunk of the original budget had to be spent on finishing the unplanned tasks, and this put both the end-date and indeed the full completion of the project in doubt. The children were coming back to nursery after the summer holidays, so the building had to be fit for purpose by 1 September at the latest.

With the first nursery project sponsored by the RBIF in Zabar in 2017, the RBIF committed to buying a washing machine and a tumble drier. This proved to be a successful approach, where the equally disadvantaged children there were able to bring their dirty clothes into nursery in the morning, and be sent home with clean clothes in the afternoon. Experience showed that not having clean clothes was one of the reasons behind absenteeism at the nursery.

The RBIF had originally committed to buying a washing machine and tumble drier for the Wesley János nursery too, but once it transpired that the funding had been underestimated because of the unexpected problems, we were very happy to be able to offer Zsuzsa and Patrick the extra finance that they needed to bring the project to a successful conclusion. So not only did we help to buy the washer and drier, we also provided the funds to buy the furniture to equip the now clean, healthy and modernised nursery building.

This extra injection of money was largely thanks to the guests and sponsors of the RBIF Summer BBQ, held for the first time this year, and brought the RBIF’s contribution to the project to over HUF 1 million (EUR 3200).

Now that the nursery has been officially handed over and the children are enjoying their new and healthy surroundings, we would like to send our thanks to everyone involved in the nursery renovation, all of the organisations, companies, volunteers and helpers, including the St. Andrews Association and the Irish Hungarian Business Circle, who gave either time, expertise or dug deep into their pockets to make the Wesley János nursery a suitable and safe place for the many disadvantaged children that attend. This truly was an international effort.

For more information on the nursery projects run by Zsuzsa and Patrick, you can visit their website here.

This is one of the six projects supported by the RBIF in 2018 from the funds raised at the Burns Supper in January this year.

Nick, PwC has been by the side of the RBIF for many years now, from the beginning in fact. What made PwC get involved in the first place?

PwC has always been conscious of our responsibility to the communities we work in. If I recall correctly one of our pioneering Partners Mike Birch OBE saw the opportunity for us to use our professional services to support a very noble and important cause and we have been proud to be associated with RBIF as a firm and personally as Partners ever since.

After so many years of support it was an obvious choice for us to make PwC our “Sponsor of the Year” at the Burns Supper in 2017. This meant you received the trophy from our Honorary President Sir Alex Ferguson in Manchester. Can you describe your experience at Old Trafford that day?

I can only describe our trip to Manchester as the experience of a lifetime. Zoltán Magyar is a legend at Old Trafford, respected by so many there, and he ensured that this was a weekend never to forget. They say you should never meet your heroes, that is definitely not correct with respect to Sir Alex! He really is a special human being, not just in terms of his achievements but also as someone truly down to earth and engaging. The hour he spent with us was simply incredible, full of stories of family and friends and laughter. His friendship with Zoltán, respect for Ferenc Puskás and support for the RBIF clearly shines through.

PwC played a crucial role in the projects of the RBIF in 2016 with a significant donation. Why is the RBIF one of your chosen charities and what does PwC benefit from the partnership?

It is impossible not to be touched by the work RBIF does for children. Our firm recognizes the responsibility we have to the families of our staff and can see no better way to make a meaningful contribution than by donating to where our support impacts children directly. RBIF facilitates that in a way that few others can.

The RBIF clearly aligns with PwC’s CSR initiatives. What would you say to any other Hungarian or multinational business considering sponsorship of the RBIF in the future?

For any company wanting to make a difference for those who really matter then the RBIF is a great partner in making that happen.

One of the Robert Burns International Foundation’s newest sponsors is an organisation that everyone has certainly heard of, and in most cases this is because they have been there and used their services. A highly successful company that has gone from strength to strength in recent years, Budapest Airport has developed an extensive CSR programme, and we were delighted when the RBIF was brought in to be part of these efforts in 2016.

Since then Budapest Airport has been a regular attendee at the Annual Burns Suppers as a GOLD sponsor. This means that besides participating in what has become one of Budapest’s most popular social events on the calendar, they make a substantial donation every year to further the projects and initiatives launched by the RBIF to aid sick and underprivileged children in hospitals both in the capital and around the country.

Once the donations have been distributed and the medical equipment purchased and installed in any given year, the preparatory work for the coming year begins. This involves making contact with the targeted institutes and organisations to assess their needs for the next 12 months. Once we have their requirements these are vetted by the RBIF’s medical adviser, Professor György Fekete, former Medical Director at the 2nd Department of Paediatrics in the children’s hospital on Tűzoltó utca in Budapest’s 9th district. Only once we get the green light, and we know that the needs are relevant and authentic, are the projects included on the list of funding aims for the year.

The ongoing financial support from Budapest Airport is crucial here. Having joined the ranks of regular sponsors they provide a reliable source of funding, which is used to purchase vital equipment for children unfortunate to find themselves requiring often sustained care at such a young age.


Budapest Airport are delighted to be involved with the RBIF as their values and principles match those we employ when it comes to helping those in need in the community. Budapest Airport’s own charity events and donation activities focus on supporting our neighbouring communities, as well as other social groups of special needs. 

We are extremely satisfied that our contribution to RBIF continues to make a real difference to those unfortunate children who need it most.

Kam Jandu, Chief Commercial Office, BUD Airport

The RBIF is very grateful for the continued support of Budapest Airport, and looks forward to continuing and developing this promising partnership in the future.

 

The Robert Burns International Foundation is an organisation that relies on the commitment and dedication of many volunteers and sponsors to carry out our activities year-in-year out. Deloitte has been a supporter of the Robert Burns International Foundation since 2013.

As a company providing services in audit, tax, legal and advisory to a wide range of large local and multinational companies and public institutions, Deloitte aims to help clients and employees make the most of the changing future, maximise their potential and manage risks. But it has also focused on corporate social responsibility for a long time, and the commitment to serve the public good dates back over 13 years. The fact the RBIF Curatorium and the Foundation itself both operate on a pro bono basis was a major factor in Deloitte achieving its goal of providing support in the most effective way possible.

Continuity is extremely important and useful when it comes to fundraising. Large one-off donations enable us to fund bigger projects and initiatives in a single given year, but regular donations, as in the case of Deloitte Hungary who have provided financial support every year since 2013, lend the RBIF stability. It is sponsors like Deloitte that enable us to plan ahead and think more long-term with our charity work, and this has been a big factor in the Foundation’s continued success with supporting sick and under-privileged children in Hungary since 1998, in the early days as the Hungarian-Scottish Society.

 

Over the time that Deloitte has been a sponsor of the Robert Burns International Foundation they have contributed to a great many projects. Paediatric healthcare is one the RBIF’s main focal points, and on this basis Deloitte has helped provide much-needed equipment and medical devices to different hospitals around Hungary. But there is also a social side to the RBIF’s work, and funding from Deloitte in 2015 contributed to improving the lives of orphans in a children’s home near Szekszárd with sports equipment.

What really defines us is our drive to make an impact that matters. This ambition guides us not only in business activities, but also in our charity initiatives. The long-term cooperation with the Robert Burns International Foundation is extremely important for us since supporting the RBIF means fostering social change as well as making a positive impact on others. We are glad to contribute to the efforts of the Robert Burns International Foundation.
Gerard Lucey, CFO, Deloitte Hungary

Their reliability as a sponsor, their willingness to get involved and the fact the activities of the RBIF are so well-aligned with the charity efforts and CSR objectives of Deloitte made them a perfect choice for Sponsor of the Year in 2015. We look forward to a continuing partnership and ongoing success with the help of Deloitte in the years to come.

The idea of holding a Burns Supper in Budapest was first raised back in 1997, and the following January saw the inaugural event under the auspices of the Hungarian-Scottish Society at the Trade Unions’ Congress Hall in Budapest.

As the years progressed, the Burns Suppers and the associated fundraising went from strength to strength, and eventually a decision was made to place these activities into a more formal structure. This was brought on by the need for the RBIF’s operations and workings to be as transparent as possible for both our supporters and sponsors, and for any third-parties.

This resulted in the establishing of the Robert Burns International Foundation, and as an official non-profit body we required a professional organisation to handle our finances, which prompted the Curatorium of the RBIF to approach PwC Hungary.

This initial contact triggered a relationship that soon developed into an amazing partnership. PwC is entrusted with the task of making sure our books and finances are kept in order and up-to-date, which they do unwaveringly every year. Not only that, in the spirit of charity and helping sick and underprivileged children in Hungary, PwC works together with KPMG, as KPMG are the Foundation’s appointed auditor. Two competitors in their profession teaming up for the greater good, nothing illustrates the spirit of the RBIF’s supporters and the quality of our background team better than this.

“At PwC Hungary we believe that we can create permanent and sustainable value for our direct and indirect stakeholders through our core professional activities and technical expertise as well as through providing financial support where needed most. Accordingly, we offer pro-bono services to, and team with, organizations who are committed to transparent and sustainable operations and encourage co-operation in support of good causes. The Robert Burns Foundation is such an organisation united behind a great cause, with a purpose similar to ours: to Build Trust in Society and Solve Important Problems, and one we have been proud to support over the past many years.”

Nick Kos, CEO PwC Hungary,

In 2016 PwC decided not only to support the RBIF with their services, but also financially, and made a sizeable donation to the projects that year. In light of the many years as our partner, we were delighted to make PwC our Sponsor of the Year in 2016, and hope that this fruitful and beneficial relationship can continue for many years to come.