Blauw Helpt! wants to give back

Blauw Helpt! wants to give back

Once it became clear that, from March, the number of KLM flights would be drastically reduced, six KLM colleagues set up the Blauw Helpt! initiative (Blue Helps!) to support those who could use a helping hand during the corona crisis. Over 1,500 KLM colleagues have made their services available.

Airbus A330 captain Barbara van Schie didn’t hesitate when she saw the message a colleague posted on Facebook, asking how KLM could give back to society during these trying times.“I loved the idea, particularly considering that KLM has also asked the government for support. We would love to do something in return.’’

Soon, the Facebook post received a torrent of replies. Barbara explains: “My colleague was thinking: I’ll ask those who replied first to be part of the organisation. Which is why our initial team consisted of five pilots and a purser.” It didn’t take long for the website to be launched, where KLM staff could go to sign up as volunteers. “Initially, we thought that only active KLM staff would take part in the initiative. But what was interesting was that former KLM employees also signed up. Even retirees told us they wanted to help. Naturally we facilitated this.”

Operation Special Treat

Ever since then, Barbara and her colleagues have received daily requests for help by phone and by email. The requests are usually quite small, for example ‘could you walk my dog’ or ‘could you take my wheelchair-bound husband for a stroll’. But of course some projects, such as Operation Special Treat, are a little bigger. “KLM has put together 6,000 gift bags, filled by KLM Catering Services with crisps, cola and Easter eggs. As they are currently preparing almost no in-flight meals as a result of the corona crisis, some food products were nearing their expiration date. Another colleague was able to arrange a truck so the gift bags could be delivered to emergency services. We started filling the crates with our goodies at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at eight o’clock in the morning, after which we drove around delivering the bags to the ambulance services, the fire service and police departments in the surrounding towns. Of course we also dropped by the Schiphol emergency services, including the ambulance department and the military police.’’

Some initiatives involve secondary school students. One example is a programme several cockpit colleagues set up for disadvantaged youngsters who do not receive a lot of support at home. “They call the children three times a week for thirty minutes to talk about how they are doing. They also help with homework and quiz them on their English. We hope this helps them to stay motivated and continue to do their schoolwork at home. We have been trained to work with people in the air, and these skills are transferrable to working with people in a variety of situations. The emergency services we work with greatly appreciate our help.’’

Send a card

Barbara and the Blauw Helpt! team are mainly responsible for the coordination of the projects. “It takes up a fair amount of my time because we receive requests for help on a daily basis. Today we received ten!’’ It’s also possible to send a card. One of our cabin colleagues designs the most beautiful cards, which you can send someone to cheer them up or to show your support. “You can send a request through the website and we will make sure the right person receives a hand-written card.’’

1,500 KLM staff

By now 1,500 members of staff have signed up to help out; from cabin, to cockpit and ground personnel. “So I would hereby like to say, more requests for help are always welcome, as long as it is a request for social support. Help can also be provided at Schiphol, our home base. Anyone who requires a helping hand or help with odd jobs can count on us, as long as we can comply with the guidelines set by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).”

So far, Barbara and her colleagues have been receiving rave reviews. Not just from their own friends and family, but also via the website and on social media. “That feels good. Although unfortunately we can’t do much for our own company, we can do something to help others. In the meantime, KLM is putting its shoulders to the wheel to help us get through these trying times. We hope we can get back to work soon. That is our position: if KLM needs us tomorrow, we are ready to go. But for now this is a great initiative that helps us feel useful.’’


Annick Oosterlee

Community Manager
Schiphol Real Estate
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