For many people, commuting is just routine, a regular part of the daily grind, but at GSJ we're different. We decided to take a closer look at the commuting practices of our staff members, not only because getting into and around the city of Antwerp is becoming more and more complex but also because we wanted to improve the health of our staff. So we decided to set them a challenge. We asked them to go all around the world, as it were, over a period of one year. We wanted to reach a total of 40,075 km by walking, running and/or cycling. The staff were very enthusiastic, took up the challenge and started counting the distance they covered not only on their way to and from work but also in everyday life. By the end of February 2019, after barely nine months, they had already covered 40,100 kilometres, and after a year the final figure was 57,000 kilometres.
To give our staff some extra motivation, GSJ advocaten itself donated 0.50 euros per kilometre to the charities. We’ve now completed this "Around the World" initiative, and on 27 November 2019 the entire sum of 20,000 euros was donated to the three non-profit associations that have close ties to our law firm.
Hope Benefiet is a non-profit association that raises funds to make daily life a little more pleasant in children's wards of hospitals or care centres. GSJ Around the World is sponsoring the "Hope on Wheels" initiative, and the money collected will go towards the purchase of a child-size vintage Volkswagen with various educational and interactive play modules. Hope Benefiet is contributing the funds from the GSJ Around the World initiative to the Oscare aftercare and research centre for the treatment of burns and scars in Merksem, giving the young patients lots of fun with this unique toy. Every year Oscare treats more than 1,000 people with burns in its outpatient rehabilitation centre, 30% of whom are children. The kids think it's a great idea, and so does the director Koen Maertens: "It's the perfect way to keep children happily occupied while they’re waiting for a consultation with their doctor or scar treatment with their therapist".
The second charity that GSJ is sponsoring is Nijlen voor Hodora. For 28 years, this non-profit association has been giving material and structural help to a Romanian adoption village in the municipality of Nijlen. In fact, one of GSJ's employees, Lieve Verelst, is the chairwoman of the non-profit association.
The third charity that GSJ is sponsoring is Bistro Buitengewoon, an employment care project by and for extraordinary people. The bistro in Kapellen, which is run by people with mental disabilities, was founded by the sister-in-law of GSJ's Managing Partner.
Slim naar Antwerpen
The association Slim naar Antwerpen offered us its support, advice and practical assistance during this very successful initiative. In addition, all our employees enjoyed using electric bikes, scooters and folding and city bikes and travelling on buses and trams free of charge for four weeks.
Koen Kennis, the local municipal alderman responsible for mobility, said: “Thanks to Slim naar Antwerpen's employer’s approach, the staff not only get around, but they're also taking an active part in the modal shift that is happening around Antwerp and at the same time supporting a good cause. That's three birds with one stone! I hope GSJ’s initiative is contagious and inspires other employers in and around Antwerp to do the smart thing”.
Managing Partner Bart Goossens said the commitment to sustainable mobility in the company has been contagious and that he’s seen a change in how his colleagues go about their day-to-day work: "Our employees are now getting to work the smart way and keeping fit at the same time, which of course is the ultimate aim of this project. Thanks to GSJ’s Around the World initiative, more and more employees are cycling to the office or are going to the court on foot or by bike".