Recognising business initiatives that power opportunities to deliver long term social and economic benefits to their communities through the investment of time, money, skills and resources.
An estimated £39bn per year is lost to the UK economy by the social costs of inequality (The Cost of Equality, The Equality Trust). The consequences of this are far reaching, with consequences of inequalities including reduced life expectancy, higher levels of debt particularly amongst vulnerable groups, higher rates of illness including mental illness, and higher levels of crime. Often efforts to tackle these problems focus on the symptoms rather than root causes. This can be expensive and fails to look at preventing problems in the first place, rather than keep on dealing with the consequences.
The Experian Building Stronger Communities Award recognises projects or initiatives run by businesses that play an active part in the social and economic regeneration of communities, and which, in terms of both scale and longevity, are making a lasting positive impact on the key and often complex issues facing the communities in which they operate.
The idea behind Data Philanthropy first came about during a hackathon event aimed at helping charities to collect and interpret data. A brainchild of Aimia – a data marketing and analytics company which runs the supermarket loyalty scheme Nectar – the project upskills the voluntary sector in measuring its impact through bespoke software, education and long-term mentoring. Since 2012, more than £2.5million of funding has been unlocked by charities, thanks to the support of hundreds of volunteers at Aimia.
Today, Data Philanthropy is core to Aimia’s social investment strategy and has seen it develop a freely available data analysis tool, ensuring sustainability. Volunteering at the company leapt from 5% to a third of its workforce. Aimia recently supported Step Up To Serve, a charity engaging young people in positive social action. Together the organisations used data on eligibility of free school meals across England to map areas which could benefit from youth social action projects, and meant that the charity understood where to focus its programmes.
Campaign to tackle loneliness
The Co-op’s detailed social research with its members and colleagues indicated that 9 million people in the UK are ‘always or often’ lonely - and it’s not just those later in life who are affected. Over a third (35%) agreed that they knew someone in their community who suffers. Against these figures, the retailer linked its fundraising and campaigning activity through a new charity partnership with the British Red Cross, whilst instilling new business approaches to support those either experiencing loneliness or at risk to the triggers of loneliness. Over 12,000 people across the country have been supported to be reconnected with their communities which has established the Co-op as a thought leader as it shared its research with over 150 charities, MPs, government departments and the health and social care sector and through its role as the sole business on the Jo Cox National Commission on Loneliness.
Our Parklife is a social venture, based at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park helping to deliver the legacy of the 2012 Games through employment, volunteering and training opportunities. ENGIE, an energy and services company, is one of the founding partners of the project, which has taken a cross-sector and collaborative approach to deliver sustainable impact in the six Olympic Boroughs. Our Parklife is a Community Interest Company acting as a catalyst for local regeneration – last year 13,700 hours of volunteering was undertaken and they have delivered more than 70 accredited training qualifications; whilst 50 people currently working in the Park have been previously unemployed which ENGIE estimates to be worth £1.3m of value for the local economy.
Positive Engagement Service
The housing association, which owns and manages more than 29,000 homes, tackles the root causes of offending, and supports people to make better life choices through its Positive Engagement Service. This sees Gentoo involved in numerous strategic partnerships to tackle anti social behaviour across Sunderland. Collaborating with Sunderland Domestic Violence Partnership and other local services, the housing association helped 88 people with tailored one-to-one support.
Social Enterprise and Social Finance Practice
Written into Hogan Lovells’ core values is a commitment that the pro-bono support they offer social enterprises must be of the same quality as any of their clients. The legal firm calculates that its 3,000 hours of advice has saved social enterprise SMEs over a million pounds in legal fees – helping community focused organisations pitch for investments, build capacity and focus on their missions. In turn the programme has helped more than 300 junior lawyers cut their teeth on community projects ensuring the partnerships being created are mutually beneficial. The firm also seeks to connect social enterprises to its corporate client network and supply chains helping to extend the responsible business movement. According to the company they benefited nearly 20,000 people in 2016 and additionally a total of £526,000 of debt and grant-match funding was raised.
Crisis and JTI
JTI invests in the communities it operates in and partnered with Crisis to help tackle homelessness by providing learning and development opportunities to people who have experienced homelessness. The partnership between the company and the charity supports the Crisis Learning Zone which offers classes in literacy, numeracy, IT, language services and the vocational skills that will help homeless people get back into work. The long term partnership blends direct charitable giving, employee volunteering and in kind support. Over 200 employees supported Crisis last year and in total the project has helped nearly 9,000 homeless people with the skills they need to gain and keep a job.
Healthy Cities - London
Through its Healthy London initiative, Morgan Stanley teams up with local community organisations to address malnourishment and health and wellbeing in children. The financial services company began by undertaking a detailed six-month evaluation, to scope issues relevant before tailoring programmes to meet local needs.
It’s work targets children and families in Poplar, a residential area of central London. The Tower Hamlets borough in which Poplar sits (in the shadow of the financial services hub Canary Wharf) has some of the highest rates of child poverty in the country. To date thousands of employee volunteering hours have been committed to the project. 2,348 children and their families have benefited from healthy eating, exercise and wellbeing workshops, whilst 17,698 meals have been provided to school children in four schools during holiday periods.
Community Food Connection
Food waste has been on the agenda of the major supermarkets in recent years and Tesco has played a leading role in tackling food poverty. In partnership with FareShare and FoodCloud charities Tesco launched Community Food Connection, an app based food surplus programme 2015. A survey of FareShare’s 500 charities showed that 98% would recommend the service to another charity.
To date more than 3,500 local charities have benefitted from support and over five million meals have been donated. The scheme’s viability was underscored when a similar model was piloted by Waitrose. Tesco is currently focused on its ambitious commitment that no food that’s safe for human consumption will go to waste from its UK operations by the end of 2017.
Supporting Social Entrepreneurship in Hackney
UBS's Community Affairs programme has been centred in the borough of Hackney for over 30 years. In the past three years, through partnerships with UnLtd and Hackney Cooperative Developments (HCD) it has supported social entrepreneurs to establish new social enterprises and grow existing ones to the benefit of the most disadvantaged in the borough.
UBS funded the Hackney Connect award by UnLtd to develop the skills, confidence, aspirations and opportunities for unemployed young people aged 18-30 who want to create positive social impact in their community. The programme provides funding, project and personal support, as well as online and real world networks to help budding social entrepreneurs start up and grow their own social ventures, and have reached 4500 beneficiaries as a result.
UBS also supports HCD's Pioneering Social Entrepreneurship in Hackney project, launched to promote and safeguard the integrity of the social economy in Hackney. Since the start of this programme it has helped 262 social entrepreneurs grow their enterprise with support, advice and training.
Birmingham Law School Pro Bono Group
The Birmingham Law School offers skills-based volunteering to individuals, charities and community focused groups across the West Midlands. It is an extra-curricular programme and since 2010 has matched more than 800 student volunteers to support those in need of legal advice. As well as the clear advantage to the recipient, law students get the real-life experience of complex cases with a view to further post-graduate opportunities. The University says that at least 4,000 hours of time has been pledged to the project by future solicitors and barristers.