Alium Partners is an SME and leading global recruiter of interim executives across the private and public sectors. The firm established its CSR programme to engage with young graduates in the local community of Tower Hamlets who face barriers to employment. The corporate volunteers use their own business skills and expertise to support a project called Fastlaners.
They help young people draft CVs and develop interview techniques. Alium Partners also hosted interview days, director-led mentoring and advice sessions on networking. 50% of these candidates were helped into work after just 3 months of the project. The recruiters got involved with City Action and Heart of the City 18 months ago.
Alium Partners has reported huge business benefits from its CSR. It has helped embed a culture of professional development within its own company and has helped them identify new entry level team members. New staff the firm has taken on were initially attracted because of the positive CSR work of Alium.
- 50% of young people successfully entered the workplace after just 3 months.
- 75% entered employment after 9 months
- 600 hours volunteered
- 70% of Alium staff took part in volunteering
Dovetail Does Good
Dovetail’s responsibility programme was instigated in 2013. As a small business with 7 employees, Dovetail decided to focus their effort on where they could do most with limited resources. As a result, Dovetail decided to work with The Helen Bamber Foundation, a human rights charity helping those who have suffered violence through torture, human trafficking, slavery, domestic violence and other human cruelty.
Dovetail committed to turning the Foundation’s neglected office building in Camden into an inspiring environment for staff and safe haven for clients. Dovetail contributed time and leveraged relationships with partners and suppliers in the interior design industry to obtain donated or heavily discounted materials. This project was developed, planned and executed like any other Dovetail client project with a value of £265,000 in staff time and gifts in kind.
The new office will enable over 8,000 client therapy sessions for 1,555 clients per year. Dovetail has quickly learnt that they can have more in common with current and future clients through their CSR programme than any other aspect of their business, creating a USP which is vital when pitching for new business.
The small business K&M McLoughlin Decorating Ltd has been running an apprenticeship programme for the last 16 years, retaining over 90% of qualified apprentices into the company.
However, identifying that the drop-out rate of K&M’s new apprentices was extremely high, K&M designed a five-week pre-apprenticeship ‘Introduction to Work‘ programme to improve employment skills and increase interest in the construction industry amongst young people.
The project is as a three-way partnership between Islington Council, who provided funding, City & Islington College, who provided the formal accreditation, and K&M, who delivered the programme. The Managing Director, Kevin McLoughlin is highly involved by running interview workshops, introduction to the course and exit interviews. Other staff have gained formal tutor qualifications to support the participants as mentors.
Sapphire System's Community Programme
In 2010 Sapphire Systems set out to create a CSR programme that utilised the skills and passion of their staff. With 50% of staff volunteering across all projects, they set up a relationship with a local primary school to put on a four week Apprentice project for 30 Year 6 students, with the aim to raise the aspirations of disadvantaged children.
This included a visit to their offices, volunteers delivering workshops on entrepreneurship and business skills, and mentors working with the students to create their own businesses. This culminated in a presentation of the businesses to the Managing Director and a winner was chosen. Sapphire Systems offered to help the children run their six companies and they will replicate the programme with a new group of children every year.
Sapphire Systems also have regular readers who go into the school to read with children with learning difficulties. The volunteers’ efforts certainly paid off: the reception teacher reports that he thinks this was the first year he was able to send the whole class up to year one with the requisite reading skills.
St Paul's Way Trust School - Catlin Trusteeship
In 2009, St Paul’s Way Community School was welcoming its third headteacher in 18 months, and had the worst examination results in Tower Hamlets. At the same time Catlin Underwriting were looking to develop a partnership opportunity with a local school, and agreed to pledge the resources and commitment necessary to help bring about a turn-around in the success of the school.
Volunteers from the firm have helped the school at all levels – for example offering financial planning expertise, marketing the school to the community, training for the reception staff and supporting the students on a variety of projects. This has resulted in big improvements at the school in a very short space of time.
In 2009, 29% of students achieved GCSE A*-C results. Following support from Catlin Underwriting, this increased to 47% in 2010. In March 2010 there were 67 confirmed offers of places for the school’s Year 7 intake and by May 2011, following the company’s marketing and rebranding advice, 189 places had been confirmed.
Catlin Underwriting have accepted an invite to become trustees of the new St Paul’s Way Trust School and a senior member of staff has joined the Governing Body – continuing their support to the recovery and success of the school.
eFinancialCareers is a small firm (100 employees) focusing on recruitment in the securities, investment banking and asset management industries. Their Future Unlimited programme aims to give a boost to the aspirations and life chances of disadvantaged young people growing up in boroughs near the City.
Volunteers from the firm facilitated employability workshops for 375 students across three schools in Camden in 2010, building self-esteem, aspiration and preparation for entering the jobs market. 87% of the students involved rated the workshops good to excellent. This year they have focused their efforts on Hackney, supporting three schools – as a result 90% of students benefiting felt more comfortable managing money.
They have also supported Spitalfields City Farm by donating nearly 300 hours of volunteering time – offering introductions to animal welfare, organic food and its provenance, and encouraging young people to live more healthy lifestyles.
Future Unlimited is the recognised brand for eFinancialCareers volunteering and all employees are regularly briefed on progress through monthly forums, led by senior management; it forms a key part of recruitment and induction programmes, and enjoys strong visibility around the London office.
London Young Chamber
The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry is London’s largest business support organisation, and has run the London Young Chamber since 2007. The project helps young people in secondary schools develop commercial skills, broadens awareness of careers and promotes an aspiration to achieve.
The London Young Chamber supports schools to establish Young Chamber Councils where students design and deliver enterprise activities. Many of the schools taking part are from London’s most disadvantaged areas, such as those struggling to reach their GCSE target levels.
The project has now extended to working with 17 schools across 14 London boroughs, establishing strong networks between schools – helping to improve community cohesion between young people of today. Over 15,000 young people have so far benefited from the scheme.
Community Affairs Programme
When Nomura, a global investment bank, acquired Lehman Brothers in 2008 they inherited their community partnerships. Despite community partnerships being uncommon in the company’s home market, Japan, Nomura quickly agreed to sustain and improve the local community partnerships with a new and unique combination of employee volunteering, fundraising and grants.
The existing relationships with Oaklands Secondary School in Tower Hamlets and the Rugby Academy were continued and additionally, Nomura also partnered with Southwark Park Primary School. An employee fundraising platform and grant-giving vehicle were also established. Nomura have committed £2million to their programme which has, for example, provided regular school volunteer schemes, extensive employability programmes and a sports programme.
These programmes contributed to 80% of Oaklands students achieving five A*-C GCSE grades last year, the schools’ best ever percentage. 92% of the children who attended the Rugby Academy want to continue playing and over £1.5million has been raised for the Teenage Cancer Trust through Nomura’s support.
Giving Back Initiative
8build's Giving Back Initiative supports the local community by focusing on areas such as maintaining health and safety for construction employees, providing good and equal work conditions for employees, contributing to the sustainability of the economy and environment, in addition to providing customer service.
8build's community initatives have included providing work experience placements, staging careers days, staff volunteering days and fundraising.
8build also runs its Afili8 scheme for its suppliers which is aimed to spread 8build's good practice through its supply chain.
8build relies upon everyone within the organisation to get involved; as they believe that all aspects of the business have a duty to contribute back into society. Many of the company's initiatives are incorporated in the day to day running of 8build.
The Giving Back Initiative has: provided ten students under the age of sixteen with work placements on site that have lasted up to six months, donated 1,651 hours to volunteering projects, supported 44 different charities, and donated £22,950 to charities.
Through their commitment to Corporate Responsibility 8buid have also managed to change the attitudes and mindsets of clients and professional team and demonstrate to them the benefits that 8builds approach can bring.
"8build's contribution to the programme went beyond what we could have reasonably expected of you in terms of time, energy and resources put into it"
Social Investment Programme
Investec's Social Investment programme focuses on the areas of education, entrepreneurship and environment. The programme encourages their employees to make a positive contribution to the community, by entitling staff to one day off per year to volunteer for one of the five charitable partners: Arrival Education, Bromley by Bow Centre, Community Links, Morpeth School and Starfish Greathearts Foundation. Investec also facilitates employee giving by providing a staff donation policy and offering small financial support to local organisations that fit within the education, entrepreneurship and environment sector.
Invest had always been philanthropic, but in 2007, the company decided to embark on a more structured approach to community investment that would continue to include philanthropy alongside volunteering and community partnerships.
The programme is well backed by senior level staff and pushed forward by the enthusiasm and positive attitude of staff.
Since the launch of the Social Investment Programme in 2008, Investec's employees have volunteered over 1100 hours of work time with the charitable partners. 179 students from the Arrival Education programme have received work placements, and five new social enterprises have been funded and organised for the Bromley by Bow Centre. Investec's volunteers have assisted Community Links with events involving 110 young people and have helped 1,117 young people at sport sessions. Investec's involvement with Starfish has helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds and Starfish have stated that Investec's support annually saves them nearly £20,000.
Establishing CSR initiative
Capco established their CSR programme in April 2007. The programme is focussed around community involvement, environmental responsibility and financial initiatives which facilitates employee engagement and development. They focus on using their skills as Consultants to maximise the benefits that they can offer to partner organisations.
At the heart of their initiative is the development of long term relationships with two local schools - Central Foundation School for Boys and Elizabeth Garrett Andersen. At Central Foundation School for Boys, Capco have developed a GCSE Business Studies 'Creative Thinking' workshop to assist students in the preparation of their GCSE coursework, they have also donated unwanted IT equipment to the school. At Elizabeth Garrett Andersen Girls School in Islington, Capco staff are involved with a pilot mentoring programme. Staff also participated in an activity day to give the media studies classroom a make over, saving the school approximately £1,000.
Alongside their schools programme, Capco activities have included: work with the Brokerage Citylink, setting up an A Level UCAS workshop to help students with university applications, development of a workshop to assist students with employability, an activity day to create a play area at Buffer Bears Nursery, Waterloo, and a collection for Cancer Research UK.
Capco's CSR initiative is run and managed by a committee of 12 employees who are employed as full-time consultants and give their time to the CSR programme voluntarily. The committee have an allocated 'lead' for each relationship and meet fortnightly to discuss progress. CSR newsletters are distributed to staff monthly to keep momentum going within the firm.
Capco's programme has established wide scale involvement from across the firm including at partner level. Their CEO has attended a number of functions to better develop his understanding of the programme and in order to meet Capco's stakeholders. As a sign of the programme's success, the budget was raised substantially in its second year, and a level agreed on the number of hours that staff can use for CSR work.
Capco have hosted three workshops for the Brokerage Citylink which introduced 48 students to the world of work. The mentoring programme at Elizabeth Garrett Andersen School worked with eight students in its pilot year. The GCSE business studies workshops with Central Foundation Boys School have raised the communication capabilities of 100 students. Capco have also raised over £500 worth of donations which have gone to various charities.
"It is great to be working with a young team who are so keen to make a difference... the mentees now always stop to talk to me whenever they see me in the corridors and introduce me to their friends with the hope that I can arrange mentoring for them too... As a school with a long established tradition for mentoring, we particularly welcome Capco's mentoring project...we are very grateful to Capco for permitting their staff to work alongside the staff and parents of EGA pupils to raise both the attainment and the achievement of our girls" Deputy Head, Elizabeth Garrett Andersen Girls School.
Rothschild in the Community
Rothschild in the Community is a new initiative which aims to involve a high proportion of London employees in community partnerships in the City's neighbouring areas. Education is the first confirmed major focus, and Rothschild are currently exploring projects relating to employability, enterprise and social inclusion.
Rothchild's work includes strengthening their relationship with Bow School providing volunteers for weekly programmes (Reading Partners, Number Partners, Engineering Club), large-scale one-off events (CV, careers and enterprise workshops), an art competition, an after-school Fairtrade enterprise club, and work experience placements.
Volunteers are also involved in running a fortnightly mentoring programme for able students with barriers to learning at South Camden Community School; organising a fundraising show for Chats Palace Community Theatre, and hopefully recruiting a senior member of staff as a trustee of the Theatre; incorporating a weeks placement at local schools into the Graduate training programme; holding team events at Walworth Garden Farm; and working with the Skyway youth project where volunteers are involved in both playing football with teenagers and sitting on a steering group which aims to develop models of small enterprise which can be taken on and developed by young people not in education, training or employment.
The programme was launched in January 2008 by the chairman, Baron David de Rothschild, at a lunchtime event attended by more than half of Rothschild's London employees. A new Volunteer Leave policy encourages staff to use two days per year for volunteering (for any charity, but with an emphasis on our chosen community partners). In addition, staff may use their discretion in volunteering for short amounts of time (eg lunchtime reading partners, or contributing to a careers workshop for an hour) and there is no fixed limit to how often they volunteer in this way. In year one 18 percent of staff volunteered, against a target of 10 percent and in the current year, 15 percent of staff had already volunteered by the end of quarter one.
Rothschild in the Community is managed by a full time Community Manager and guided and supported by a Community Committee made up of senior representatives of all the bank's divisions, including four Managing Directors from Investment Banking and the Head of Human Resources.
At Bow School 300 students have been helped by Rothschild volunteers. Students who have a number partner have this year achieved one level higher in maths than pupils of similar abilities who do not take part. At South Camden School, 10 pupils have been mentored which has resulted in two pupils staying in education post 16 and one pupil being spared permanent exclusion.
At Chats Palace, £25,000 in staff donations was leveraged through the production of a fundraising show. The whole of the local community is affected by Chats' ongoing financial viability and ability to stay open (which was at risk). Last year there were at least 17,000 take-ups of community outreach activities.
"Rothschild's involvement in Chats has come at a crucial time for us. The money they have recently raised will enable us to improve our facilities and develop our work with Hackney people who are excluded from accessing high quality arts. A huge thank you to everyone involved"
Sarah Wickens, Director of Chats Palace.
PopLaw is a free weekly legal clinic which was established by Denton Wilde Sapte in partnership with LawWorks, Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association and the East London Business Alliance. It is managed and staffed by Denton Wilde Sapte. The drop-in clinic takes place every Tuesday evening and is located in Poplar, East London, one of the most deprived areas in the country. It offers free legal advice to individuals who may not otherwise be able to access or afford it. Almost all areas of law are covered, except for criminal, family and immigration law, but the most regular subjects include; debt, housing, consumer issues, employment and welfare benefits.
Each week, five volunteers staff the clinic and consult with around 10 clients. The volunteers frequently follow-up their advice at a later date with further assistance to their client. . Advice is sometimes communicated through translators because of the mix of languages spoken.
PopLaw is run by Denton Wilde Sapte's Pro Bono Committee. The Committee manage a rota of over 90 volunteers from across the firm, including a cross-section of partners, solicitors, barristers and trainees, who staff the clinic each week. Administrative support is provided through a rota of law students from Queen Mary College. The Committee has also produced a handbook for volunteers, which provides guidelines on giving advice at the clinic. The project has been supported by Denton Wilde Sapte's senior management from its conception.
PopLaw is advertised to potential clients through flyers and posters which are circulated in Ideas Stores, community centres and local doctors' surgeries. Advertisements are placed in East London Life on a semi-regular basis to ensure that the community is aware of the clinic. The clinic is run from the Ideas Store in Poplar which provides library and learning services. The community nature of the venue makes it an excellent location for the clinic, providing a familiar, comfortable environment.
External PR for PopLaw has been achieved by placing a release in The Lawyer's pro bono column, and by inviting local press to the clinic's first birthday celebration. This was also attended by Tower Hamlets councillors and Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Canning Town.
Since it was established in January 2006, PopLaw has advised 669 clients, with 91 volunteers providing 1,228 hours of assistance. This has saved the community over £500,000 in legal fees. In a community with over 35 per cent unemployment (source: National Statistics), the individuals receiving legal advice from PopLaw often cannot afford advice from other sources. This assistance can be invaluable in helping to arrange business affairs, prevent evictions, ensure clients are claiming the benefits they are entitled to, and assisting in complex areas such as tax and employment law.
"Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association (Popular HARCA) was very concerned that Poplar residents had no access to affordable legal advice and we are delighted that Denton Wilde Sapte has been meeting this need for the last 18 months.
PopLaw is an example of how co-operation between the public and private sectors can really enhance the lives of people, many of whom live in difficult circumstances. Many residents have commented that the service they received has helped them maintain their tenancies. PopLaw has also assisted in resolving domestic violence issues and assisting with access to appropriate education. Lease holders are frequently signposted to the service by staff at the community centres when they require complex legal advice. Without this referral agency, residents would be further disadvantaged and the community services offered by Poplar HARCA would be impoverished."
- Genny Renard, Interim Deputy Head of Communities and Neighbourhoods, Poplar HARCA
The Haggerston School Project, Hackney
In partnership with The Building Exploratory charity in Hackney, Swanke Hayden Connell Architects (SHCA) undertook a programme of workshops with 24 design and technology students from Year 9 in the Haggerston School. The aim of the programme was to inspire engage and educate, and to encourage students to consider careers in design, architecture and the built environment, at the same time raising awareness of their local heritage.
School lessons had already provided students with an initial awareness of design. The project was designed to further their understanding of design, form, scale and context, and the Haggerston 1960's Erno Goldfinger designed School's 'Grade 2 Listed' status provided a perfect subject of architectural study.
The project ran weekly 90 minute workshops, starting with a scale workshop which involved building, from cardboard and other materials, a household object at varying scales. This session introduced the main task which was to build models of their landmark school in its urban context at 1:500 and in architectural detail form at 1:100 scales.
During 2007, SHCA set up an internal committee of 8 professional and support staff led by the Managing Director to review and consider their community initiatives. The group strongly recommended that they support their employees' wishes and work with organisations local to their office in the Borough of Hackney that could benefit from the use of their professional skills as designers and architects in the local community. It was from this basis, and with the assistance of City Action, an employee volunteering broker, that the partnership with the Building Exploratory was born
From internal survey results, SHCA recruited 12 employee volunteers who had expressed an interest in community involvement. The volunteers ran the workshops at Haggerston School on a rotating basis from January to April. The team received direct mentoring and training from senior staff and developed considerable confidence and improved communication skills. Alongside the workshops, presentations of the completed and in-progress work were produced for use by the school.
Through the project, students learnt how architects evaluate and realise design solutions using 3D skills, drawings and models; the architectural characteristics of scale, form, context, texture, light and materials; the application of practical modelling techniques and materials to explore ideas and proto-typing and the importance of design and the challenges that face designers.
SHCA and the teachers at the school hope to see far-reaching results reflected in the students' exam results, especially in light of the full attendance at workshops and the contribution made to coursework. All feedback from students was most positive.
Benefits to the community through the Haggerston School and work experience project include: engaging experienced outside professionals to contribute to course work; encouraging students to enter design professions to positively impact the environment; raising the school's profile in an active CCI programme; learning teamwork, practical skills of communication, expression and 3D model making; increasing awareness of the environment and our impact upon it.
The project has also inspired SHCA to more than double their intake of work experience students from the local community and elsewhere in order to encourage students into the design professions through active community involvement.
Community Involvement Programme
The programme was designed to offer 2 levels of involvement:
- Company-wide involvement:
- Annual charity partner: It was critical to the success of the programme that all staff where involved from the beginning. Buy-in and support was achieved with all staff having the opportunity to nominate a charity and the successful partner being chosen by staff vote. One of the core activities during the year would be a company-wide volunteering day.
- Environmental policy: Impact on the environment was minimised through implementing paper recycling, providing fair-trade tea and coffee in the office, purchasing recycled stationary products and introducing green cleaning products.
- Supporting individual involvement:
- Payroll giving: made available to all staff and iMPOWER covered the cost of all processing fees.
- Volunteering policy: gave each employee eight hours to spend per year to volunteer with a charity of their choice.
- Employee sponsorship: iMPOWER committed to donate £50 for each employee participating in a charitable event.
The programme has been driven forward with unwavering senior level support. The Chief Executive and Board of Directors not only approved the commitment of time and resources, but actively endorse the programme and its progress at quarterly company meetings. The management of the programme has been incorporated into the marketing function and is managed by the Marketing Advisor (30% of her role). Where appropriate external agencies are used to provide additional support i.e. City Action to broker individual volunteering or Charities Trust to manage payroll giving.
Considerable time was devoted to designing a programme that was manageable with limited resource and that would allow a small organisation (24 staff at the time) to have an impact in the community. A clear programme objective and a set of targets based on external benchmarking provided a framework for the first year of the programme. A list of criteria was designed to support the identification of an ideal charity partner. All staff were invited to nominate charities that met the criteria and a partner was selected by staff vote.
The Marketing Advisor is responsible for organising events, communicating progress to all employees, monitoring the success of the programme, and liaising with charity partners. There is a weekly meeting with the Chief Executive to report on progress, who then updates the Directors at each board meeting.
The programme is reviewed annually to make improvements. This process includes a staff questionnaire, meetings with charity partners for feedback, and measurements against the key targets.
Information and knowledge: Kidscape touches the lives of approximately 45,000 children through a combination of training sessions and passing on skills to professionals who support children. The information gathered in the iMPOWER report provides insight into the perceptions and issues most relevant to primary school students. This information has informed the development of training materials and provided insight into how best to approach this age group.
Financial contributions: The money donated (£2,356.15) from the corporate contribution and individual fundraising has contributed to the production of a bully-free DVD for primary school children, to be used as a resource for teachers and carers to keep children safe. The intention is that the DVD will be sent to all primary schools and used in the education of tens of thousands of students over the coming years.
Volunteering: Through the company-wide volunteering day, Kidscape benefited from 8 hours of time from 24 volunteers (a total of 192 hours and value of £9,000). They benefited from consulting skills in order to analyse the data gathered, and Kidscape were able to reach a much larger number of children and teachers over the course of the day than would have been possible with their small team.
Donations: 2 laptops and office furniture (estimated total value of £1,200) was donated.
Supplier relationships and rates: Kidscape used corporate suppliers therefore benefiting from corporate rates.
The Head Teacher highlighted the benefits for students to interact with professionals including awareness of different careers and building self esteem. Over the course of the day, 333 students were educated about strategies to prevent bullying and a further 16 prefects were given training on recognising bullying and de-escalation techniques. 18 teachers and teaching assistants were trained on ways to reduce bullying.
"Apart from raising the general awareness on the topic of bullying within the Stockwell Primary School, the report produced by iMPOWER has given the Senior Management Team and staff the opportunity to review our behaviour policy and the channels of support available for the children."
- Janet Mulholland, Head Teacher, Stockwell Primary School