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Glasgow families to receive help with the cost of white goods 

Glasgow families struggling with rising living costs are to be offered additional support to purchase essential white goods through a new pilot programme delivered by social enterprise ethical lender, Fair for You.  Up to 1,000 households in the Glasgow postcode area will be able to shop for new Whirlpool appliances, such as washing machines, fridge-freezers and cookers, on new flexible, affordable credit terms. The programme has been set up in response to the cost of living crisis, with Fair for You on a mission to help low-income families avoid high cost credit or the hardship of living without essential household items.  The pilot is backed by a £350,000 funding package from responsible finance provider, Social Investment Scotland (SIS), and will be trialled in the city before potentially being rolled out to other Scottish postcode areas.  Bespoke eligibility criteria have been outlined for the initiative to reach families with young children and those with other caring responsibilities – for instance, customers must be over 21 years old and have dependents – and applications will be assessed on a case-by-case using a combination of open banking and credit checks. Open banking allows the ethical lender to get a broader view of the affordability of a loan which enables them to accept applications from people who are declined elsewhere.  Last year, Fair for You received almost 10,000 credit applications from families in Scotland with almost half looking for help to purchase household appliances where average loans were around £350.  Moira Berry is a single parent living in Drumchapel with her four sons and purchased a new washing machine through Fair for You earlier this year. Moira is not able to work because of health issues including fibromyalgia, a syndrome causing pain all over the body. She said: "I've used Fair for You for a number of years, the last thing I bought was a washing machine - I've also bought furniture and other things. Their products arrive really quickly, and they let you choose how you want to pay back, they don't put you under pressure and they don't want you to get into debt. As a single parent on benefits with a bad credit rating, I'm not sure where I'd turn if it wasn't for Fair for You - people like me just get refused if you try to buy things on finance elsewhere."  Fair for You was set up as a community interest company in 2016 as an alternative to high-cost lending and aims to support people who might not be able to apply for credit through traditional channels.  Emma Goodwin, deputy CEO and CFO of Fair for You, said: “Scotland has a complex and expensive debt recovery system which can create real headaches for families struggling to make ends meet, and make them ineligible for further credit from other lenders. If someone’s fridge or washing machine packs in, we want to help them to solve that problem, rather than seeing them go without fresh food or clean clothes. High-cost, predatory lenders shouldn’t be the only option available to families in need and we know that ethical, affordable credit can have a big impact in the community.  “We’re kicking off the new pilot scheme with support from SIS and hope it will make a real difference to Glasgow families while the costs of essentials like food, fuel and energy continue to rise.”  Chris Jamieson, head of investments at Social Investment Scotland, added: “Fair for You plays an important role in helping low-income families access the funding they need for essential household items, without having to turn to high-cost loans. Fair for You has identified significant demand for its products in Scotland and we’re pleased to support this pilot programme in Glasgow, which will hopefully lead to further support for families in other towns and cities too.” fairforyou.co.uk socialinvestmentscotland.com

05 Aug

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3 min

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145 athletes supported by the GLL Sport Foundation head for Birmingham 2022

An impressive 145 past and present athletes supported by the UK’s largest independent athlete support programme will be competing at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham. The supported athletes taking part in a variety of different sports - including athletics, boxing, netball, para-athletics, swimming, para table tennis and triathlon. The GLL Sport Foundation (GSF) is the UK’s largest independent athlete support programme which is designed to give young talented athletes a range of funding, access to sports facilities and athlete support services. The GSF work in partnership with SportsAid, SportsAid Wales and the Mary Peters Trust in Northern Ireland as well as numerous sporting, medical and local authority partners. In 2022 over 1,500 talented athletes are being funded by the GSF, of which an 87% receive no other centralised or independent funding or assistance. The GSF support has provided a lifeline to the athletes and an inspiration to other young people in local communities particularly as sport training and competition emerges from the Covid pandemic.  They also provide a support network for a growing number of talented athletes heading to national and international competition. Greenwich athlete Darryl Neita, 25 is one of the supported athletes.  She said: "It’s fantastic to be supported by GSF for another year, as I have been backed by the Foundation for many years it is a great help in my journey - I would not be where I am today without the help of GSF. “It’s so special that GSF has been a part of my career all these years especially this year as there is a home championships.  It means the world to have the support". Paralympic athlete Simon Lawson, 40, of Allerdale, competes in the wheelchair marathon.  He said: “I’m really excited to compete in Birmingham for this year’s Commonwealth Games and try and improve on my last Commonwealth Games Bronze medal!  “It’s a great honour to represent our country - especially in a home Games!  A lot of work and preparation has gone into my training for this event, with a big special thanks to GSF for financial support and training facilities/gym memberships – it’s a huge help in my programme.” Peter Bundey, GSF Chair, paid tribute to the GSF athlete award holders heading to Birmingham: “We are proud to be supporting so many talented athletes that will be competing for their countries in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. “They exemplify the very best of our communities and embody the spirit of our social enterprise philosophy and I wish them the very best of luck. “I want to thank our sponsors, partners and supporters for helping give these athletes a welcome boost and allowing them to continue the richly diverse sports they love and excel in.” Welsh GSF award recipient Calum Jarvis, 29, who trains in Bath competes in the men’s freestyle swimming.  He said: "Thank you for all your support going into the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. It's an absolute privilege to be representing Wales a third time. Especially with it being a stone's throw from Wales. “GLL support will allow me to get the equipment and nutrition needed for me to perform at another level for the Commonwealth Games”. Anna Hursey who trains in Cardiff and competes in Table Tennis said: “I am thankful for support from The GLL Sport Foundation, it helps me to be able to train and compete internationally, which is needed for me to develop and compete at tournaments like The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham ". The GSF is the brain-child of GLL, the UK’s largest charitable social enterprise delivering sport, leisure, culture, health and community facilities. Charitable social enterprise GLL operates 260 sport and leisure facilities across the UK in partnership with 42 local authorities and sporting bodies. These venues span the UK with presence in Belfast, Cardiff, London, Manchester and large parts of England from Carlisle to Cornwall. GLL managed centres operate under the consumer brand ‘Better’, each one offers leisure, fitness and wellbeing – with gym, swim, classes, courts and pitches to enjoy, indoors and out – or family fun during summer staycations at lidos, trampoline parks and watersport centres. ENDS About GLL GLL manages 260 sports venues, leisure centres, gyms and pools under the ‘Better’ brandin partnershipwith nearly 50 local authorities and sports bodies.  GLL operates the world class venues in the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority – including the VeloPark in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which is celebrating ‘10 Years On’ since the London 2012 Games. The Lee Valley VeloPark will also host track and para track cycling competitions as part of Birmingham 2022. gll.org About GSF In 2022, 1,523 talented young athletes from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a cumulative £700,000 worth of memberships for sports venues and leisure centres, cash bursaries and other athlete services - thanks to leisure charitable social enterprise, GLL. Athletes are supported through the GLL Sport Foundation, (GSF) the largest independent athlete support programme in the UK, which in 2022 marks its 14th year of supporting both emerging and established national sporting talent. While GSF focuses mainly on supporting young and upcoming grassroots athletes in the local community, many have gone on to success in major competitions.  Award holders past and present include Tom Daley, Ellie Simmonds, Susie Rogers, Michael McKillop, Dina Asher-Smith and Charlotte Worthington. The athlete awards cover Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic, Special Olympic and Commonwealth sporting disciplines.     With a staggering 87% of award recipients receiving no other sport funding and 56% of recipients being aged under 21, the GLL Sport Foundation has highlighted a vital funding gap for young talented athletes and the need to tackle inequalities in sport; a significant number of award recipients have confirmed that this funding is essential to their journey and some could not continue without it. gllsportfoundation.org

25 Jul

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4 min

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Social care business celebrates 10 years of success

July the 1st 2022 saw Leading Lives mark its 10-year anniversary as an employee-owned social enterprise, with a combined birthday celebration and awards event in Bury St Edmunds.  It also acknowledged the contribution of Tony Carr, who retires as Managing Director after 41 years in the Suffolk care sector. Leading Lives has grown significantly since it was established as an employee-owned social enterprise in 2012 and is now an award-winning social enterprise that delivers innovative high-quality care services to over a thousand people, with an annual turnover that has increased to £10.7m. Social care provision includes 24 hr supported housing, overnight stays to give family carers a break, bespoke 1-1 care in the community and in people’s homes across Suffolk.  Their community hubs provide a range of skills development and leisure activities as part of a county wide daytime, evening, and weekend offer. They have an expanding offer bespoke to young people with learning disabilities and autistic people 13-25yrs that is grant funded by Activities Unlimited. They have embraced new ways of working and used technology to support people during the pandemic through their Digital Lifeline Project, which won Innovative Practice at the 2021 Suffolk Care Awards. Leading Lives put much of their success down to their business model of employee ownership and not for profit. The board of directors is made up entirely of employee elected directors, voted for by their colleagues.  Leading Lives invests heavily in the wellbeing of employees and involves them in the running of the business, employees feel valued and that their ideas and opinions matter.  All profits go back into the organisation and to the local community. This year Leading Lives gave away £25k to local charities and third sector organisations in Suffolk.  Strong on values and always putting the person at the heart of what they do, Leading Lives is well respected nationally and locally within the care sector winning numerous awards including Health & Social Care Enterprise of the year 2015 at the SEUK national awards (and finalists in 2021), winners at the Suffolk Care awards in 2021 and named in the top 50 Employee-Owned businesses in the UK.    Tony says “I have thoroughly enjoyed working in these services over the years with so many fantastic people. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to help create Leading Lives and am extremely proud of where it is today and how well positioned it is for achieving even more in the future.” - Tony Carr. Lucy Humphrey formerly Director of Operations at Leading Lives and non-executive director at Care Development East has been appointed as new Managing Director to succeed Tony.  Lucy said “This is an exciting time for Leading Lives and despite the challenges in social care we have a wonderfully loyal and committed workforce. I am positive we will work together to make the leading lives difference over the next ten years.” - Lucy Humphrey. leadinglives.org.uk

01 Jul

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2 min

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The Sewing Rooms presents The Sew Fab Thermal Cooking Bag – a product that helps us in the fight against fuel poverty and climate change

The Sewing Rooms have designed and are manufacturing The Sew Fab Thermal Cooking Bag which reduces the amount of cooking fuel consumption by up to 70%  with the potential to save hundreds of pounds per year. The SewFab thermal cooking bag is inspired by medieval ways of cooking, the straw and haybox method as well as third world versions. The fact is, we use our ovens to cook casseroles for 3 or 4 hrs a time not realising that ovens are among the most energy-demanding appliances in our homes. Aside from our fridge, the oven is likely responsible for the highest energy consumption out of all our kitchen appliances.  Lots of us are feeling the pinch and having to make choices about where we can save money. Some of us have tougher choices to make than others.  The elderly and food bank users, already experiencing hardship, are finding that this latest hike in living costs is forcing them into fuel poverty and into impossible living conditions.  And we at the Sewing Rooms wanted to be part of the solution. As Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker reports: “It’s incredibly concerning. We’re hearing of some food bank users declining potatoes and root veg because they can’t afford the energy to boil them.” To hear that those people already struggling to feed their families sufficiently are now unable to heat the little fresh food that they do have access to, is heart breaking. We hope through this campaign to raise a minimum of £5000 to help us to distribute The Sew Fab Thermal Cooking Bag to Food Banks  and community initiatives across the country we need your help to reach this goal. The more successful we are the more SewFab Thermal cooking bags we can gift to our most struggling communities. How does The Sew Fab Thermal Cooking Bag reduce fuel costs?  The thermal bag is based on medieval methods of cooking and more recently “Haybox Cooking”; a process which has been developed over the years and now, here in Skelmersdale, we have produced our own modern, portable, washable version. By choosing The Sew Fab Thermal Cooking Bag over your usual oven method, you can reduce cooking fuel consumption by up to 70% per meal, saving on average 1 ton of carbon emissions per year (based on twice weekly usage)  We estimate that 1 family using this cooking method  wice a week can save on average  £6 per week on fuel costs, that’s a saving of around £312  per year.   A family using this method 4 times a week can save around £12 per week with an estimate saving of £624 per year  That also a saving of 2 ton of carbon a year*.   Oven cost per hr Times per wk using oven 3.5 hr oven usage cost Cost of fuel oven use over the year times per wk using sewfab bag Cost Saving on fuel per week Cost saving on fuel per year 61p 1 £2.14 £111.28 1 £2.14 £111.28 61p 2 £4.28 £222.56 2 £4.28 £222.56 61p 3 £6.42 £333.84 3 £6.42 £333.84 61p 4 £8.56 £445.12 4 £8.56 £445.12 61p 5 £10.70 £556.40 5 £10.70 £556.40 61p 6 £12.84 £667.68 6 £12.84 £667.68 61p 7 £14.98 £778.96 7 £14.98 £778.96  So, How does it work?   This short video explains how the Sew Fab Thermal Cooking Bag works: https://twitter.com/SewFabAcademy/status/1538900662469156864?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1538900662469156864%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.socialenterprise.org.uk%2Fmember-news%2Fthe-sewing-rooms-presents-the-sew-fab-thermal-cooking-bag-a-product-that-helps-us-in-the-fight-against-fuel-poverty-and-climate-change%2F What is it Made of?  Environmental impact The Sew Fab Thermal bag will use unwanted rolls/roll ends of textiles which are gifted  to us by Lancashire based companies, The Senator Group and Panaz Fabrics. Their help and support is invaluable as we will repurpose this fabric for the thermal bag, in addition we will be using their offcuts/scrap pieces of foam/textiles/polyester,  which we  shred to create a hybrid filling for the thermal insulation. Each Sew Fab Thermal Cooking Bag saves approximately 6 kg. of materials from going to waste.  Support the Crowdfunder! CEO and co founder Paula Gamester explains: “So many people are facing difficulties and hardship, and we at the Sewing Rooms wanted to be part of the solution so we did some research and designed the SewFab thermal cooking bag. We have launched a crowdfunder https://crowdfunder.co.uk/p/sewfab-bag  our target is £5000, however the more we raise the more people we can help.

22 Jun

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Fair for You and Iceland work tackling food poverty nominated for prestigious award

Social Enterprise UK member Fair for You has been nominated for a prestigious Global Good Award alongside the supermarket Iceland for tackling food poverty in the UK.  The affordable credit provider and the retailer are piloting a scheme offering micro-loans of between £25 and £75 so that families can smooth out their income in the school holidays, or when hit by unexpected bills or hardship, to ensure they can continue to put food on the table.  Early data from the pilot already shows 65% of customers reducing their food bank usage, 80% having improved mental health, among other positive outcomes.  The scheme means Fair for You is one of six finalists in the Community Partnerships category of the Global Good Awards, with other nominees including projects in Argentina, India, Pakistan, Rwanda, Turkey. The winners are announced in a ‘hybrid’ (virtual and in-person) ceremony on 13 October.  Simon Dukes, CEO of Fair for You, said: “We’re very proud that, by working with Iceland, we can help families put food on plates without having to resort to food banks – an option which is not always available to all who might need it.  “We’re proud of the impact we’re having and this global recognition. We’re also very grateful to Iceland and those investors who have made the scheme a success so far, and hope to continue its rollout.”  Following an initial trial in two locations – Huddersfield (Yorkshire) and Rhyl (North Wales), the Food Club has recently been rolled out to Liverpool, Chester, Wirral, Newport (South Wales), and parts of Manchester, Scotland and London to further test the scheme.  One unemployed single mother in Yorkshire told Fair for You she would barely eat for the last week of the month without Food Club. Another in Wales, who works as a teaching assistant, commented: “I do have an alright monthly income, but it’s not much after the rent and the car comes out. The Food Club has been really good, you’ve got that option of filling up for the holidays, it’s good peace of mind knowing that it’s there.”  Under the terms of the Food Club, a £75 loan paid back over eight weeks will accrue interest of £2.89. For a £25 loan, it is just 40p. Loans are loaded onto a pre-paid shopping card for use in Iceland and The Food Warehouse stores only. By borrowing through the Food Club, customers are able to improve their credit rating and potentially then access other financial products which many of us take for granted, such as mobile phone contracts.  Fair for You was founded in 2015 and has since lent to more than 50,000 customers, enabling  those excluded from mainstream credit to take control of their finances and purchase what they need to create a comfortable home and a healthy family – and avoid falling victim to predatory, high-cost lenders. Owned by the Fair Credit Charity and backed by leading charities and foundations, Fair for You is focused on supporting rather than profiting from low-income households and has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, as well as a string of industry award wins.  fairforyou.co.uk

22 Jun

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Community reporters from the UK’s first older people’s led newsroom crowned with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Community reporters from the UK’s first older people’s led newsroom have been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  The team of volunteers which run the Greater Manchester-based news platform Talking About My Generation create news stories, videos and podcasts every month covering news, views and nostalgia – all while challenging ageist stereotypes.  Bob Alston, volunteer Tameside reporter and magazine designer and editor, said: “I am over the moon that we have received this award. I have been on the team since the start of the project and have loved watching it grow with all of our hard work and dedication. We are all so proud of being the first UK’s older people’s led news team.  “We have all learnt something new or have refreshed an old skill or interest whilst volunteering and have all made great friends in the process. I can’t wait to see how big our community can get and continue to change the record on growing older in Greater Manchester and share stories that challenge ageing stereotypes.  “And it is made even more special to receive this award in the Queen’s Jubilee year.”  Stories the community reporters cover range from national issues like fuel poverty and effects of the pandemic on mental health, to looking back at childhood memories, podcasts with actors and authors, sports reports, video vox pops at conferences and Pride events and reviews of vegan restaurants or gigs.   The Talking About My Generation volunteers are one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.  They will receive an award crystal and two members of the news team will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2023.  Kirsty Day, Media Director of social enterprise Yellow Jigsaw, which manages the Talking About My Generation project, said: “I am so chuffed at this announcement. It is well deserved. This team of volunteers first got together in 2019 and have gone from strength to strength – with their dedication to reporting never waning through the pandemic.   “Some joined the team having never listened to a podcast, been in front of a camera, written a news report or had the confidence to speak at a conference and now they have all the skills of any regional news team, and thrive in this environment, so much so they are now training up new volunteer community reporters so they continue to grow and give a voice to older people across Greater Manchester – showing they are valuable not vulnerable.”  The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.  Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.  Learn more about the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service here and visit the Talking About My Generation news site here. 

22 Jun

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1,452 Talented Athletes across the UK to benefit from £700k fund

GLL Sport Foundation keeps local communities’ sporting dreams alive after pandemic hiatus and through the cost of living crisis – removing inequalities and spreading opportunity 1,452 talented young athletes from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a cumulative £700,000 worth of free memberships for sports venues and leisure centres, cash bursaries and other athlete services – thanks to leisure charitable social enterprise, GLL GLL manages 260 sports venues, leisure centres, gyms and pools under the ‘Better’ branding partnership with nearly 50 local authorities and sports bodies.  Athletes will be supported through the GLL Sport Foundation, the largest independent athlete support programme in the UK, which in 2022 marks its 14th year of supporting both emerging and established national sporting talent. With a staggering 87% of award recipients receiving no other sport funding and 56% of recipients being aged under 21, the GLL Sport Foundation has highlighted a vital funding gap for young talented athletes and the need to tackle inequalities in sport; a significant number of award recipients have confirmed that this funding is essential to their journey and some could not continue without it. These include those currently competing and National and International levels following a difficult period during the pandemic when competitions were curtailed, individual athlete’s training programmes halted and earnings reduced. The free training memberships can be activated across 260 GLL and a number of partner-operated sporting venues.  In addition, chosen athletes will share £111,000 of cash value awards as well as access to physiotherapy and introductory access to athlete services offered by the Foundation partner “Switch the Play”. Fabio Zamparelli, 18, from Cornwall is UK’s No. 1 Under 20 Para-athletic Shot Put Thrower and Discus Thrower in the F20 class – who lives by his motto “Find your passion. Find your purpose. Set your goals. Work hard”. He said on receiving his award: “I am immensely grateful to receive the GSF award. This support means that I can concentrate on training, improve my strength and conditioning, without worrying about where to train. Therefore, I can focus on my long term goals. “Thank you for believing in me and recognising my efforts so far. I am targeting future Paralympic Games and to be world champion and I am delighted that you will be on this journey with me. Thank you!” Peter Bundey, GSF Chair, paid tribute to the athletes, programme stakeholders and also highlighted the impact the Foundation is making to reduce inequalities across a wide range of sports. He said: “These last 2 years since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic have had an unprecedented impact across sport especially with younger emerging talent. “For young talented athletes, restrictions of their training, travel and competitions appear to have impacted significantly. “But these awards offer a welcome boost for athletes to continue the richly diverse sports they love and excel in – allowing us to reach deep into communities across the UK to remove barriers to participation. “Since the Foundation began, we have now given nearly 20,000 athlete awards, totalling nearly £13million of support. I would like to give heartfelt thank all our sponsors, partners and supporters, who remain the lifeblood of this fantastic GLL initiative. I would also like to thank SportsAid for their continued partnership and the athletes who have continued to support us over the last two years and look forward to being with you for years to come”. GSF Patron and former Olympic Champion Sally Gunnell explained the impact of GSF support on the next generation of athletes and the communities they live in. She said: “Sport is such an important part of all our lives and has the power to inspire young people to excel and harness their talent towards their future. From my own experience starting out as a young athlete and progressing through my sport, I understand how important the recognition and support from organisations like the GLL Sport Foundation can be to a young athlete. It can make the difference in achieving sporting ambitions. “This is ever-more important today as we recover from a difficult and challenging year, where dreams have been put on hold and sport had to stop. Athletes can now refocus and start competition and working towards those goals with the support of the GLL Sport Foundation. “This support can positively impact communities by promoting the opportunity that sport can bring and promoting the benefits it brings in well-being from someone within that community.” While GSF focuses mainly on supporting young and upcoming grassroots athletes in the local community, many have gone on to Olympics and Paralympics success.  Award holders past and present have amassed an impressive 77 medals between them – including Tom Daley, Ellie Simmonds, Susie Rogers, Michael McKillop, Dina Asher-Smith and Charlotte Worthington. The athlete awards cover Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic, Special Olympic and Commonwealth sporting disciplines. gll.org gllsportfoundation.org

22 Jun

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4 min

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Charity Bank joins four-day work week pilot

6 June 2022 Charity Bank, the loans and savings bank for positive social change, today announced it will pilot a voluntary four-day work week as part of a six-month global programme coordinated by flexible working experts, 4 Day Week Global The four-day work week pilot starts today, and Charity Bank is the first UK bank to reduce its work week from a standard 35 hours to 28 hours for the same pay and benefits.  Charity Bank will continue to offer its specialist customer service and support five days a week, whilst giving all employees the option to move to a four-day work week.  Rather than rewarding presenteeism, the four-day week pilot focuses on productivity, outputs, and results.  The approach Charity Bank will be piloting is the “100:80:100” model – which means employees will receive 100 percent of their pay while working 80 percent of their contracted hours, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 percent productivity.  Adopting a four-day work week is a business improvement strategy centered on working smarter rather than longer with significant investment in the well-being of the most important asset to any business – people.  Charity Bank’s decision to join the pilot and take the lead in redesigning the nature of work is rooted in its socially conscious mission. Charity Bank’s CEO Ed Siegel said: “As an ethical bank we are constantly looking at ways to deliver increased societal impact through our values-driven approach – that’s what makes the four-day working week such a good fit for us.” “We have long been a champion of flexible working, but the pandemic really moved the goalposts in this regard.  We’ve all seen the benefits, and the experience has led us to reassess what good looks like.  For Charity Bank the move to a four-day workweek seems a natural next step.” “With a meaningful redesign of the way we work, we expect to improve efficiency without affecting productivity whilst enhancing the physical and mental health of our colleagues. In essence, a happier and healthier workforce is more productive and delivers superior customer service which enables us to do more for the charities and social enterprises we exist to serve. “By valuing productivity over time spent, we aim to bridge the gap often felt between full-time and part-time staff, removing any possible barriers to promotion and progression. We anticipate that the shorter working week will also help us attract a more diverse workforce and encourage people who would previously have been unable to commit to the standard five-day working week to join us. As well as benefitting colleagues, the shorter work week will help us to reduce our carbon footprint through a reduction in the frequency of commuting and by eliminating unnecessary meetings and travel. “The 20th-century concept of a five-day working week is no longer the best fit for 21st-century business. We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity, customer experience and our social mission. “We are proud to be the first UK bank to reduce its work week from a standard 35 hours to 28 hours for the same pay and benefits. As one of our Board members put it, we believe ‘this trial will put Charity Bank on the right side of history.’” charitybank.org

22 Jun

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Unity Trust Bank announces new regional directors for the South and Midlands

Unity Trust Bank, the socially determined and commercially focused bank, has announced two internal promotions to lead the Commercial Banking teams in the South and the Midlands. Matt Conroy has been promoted to regional director for the South of the country and Andrew Bird as regional director for the Midlands. With more than 30 years in the banking industry, Matt brings considerable experience to his new position. Matt joined Unity’s commercial banking team as a relationship manager in 2019 having previously held a similar role at Triodos Bank. Andrew Bird brings over 33 years of experience across both retail and commercial banking. Andrew joined Unity Trust Bank in 2021 from Nucleus Commercial Finance following relationship management and senior leadership positions at a number of high street banks, including Santander, Barclays and HSBC. In their new roles, both Matt and Andrew will be leading teams responsible for maintaining and building the bank’s impact-driven lending and related transaction services while continuing to develop strong working relationships with intermediaries and customers. For nearly 40 years, Unity Trust Bank has been helping businesses to prosper and contribute positively to economic, community and social change. Its ambition is to become the bank of choice for all socially-minded organisations in the UK. CEO of Unity Trust Bank, Deborah Hazell said: “We are delighted to promote Andrew and Matt to these significant roles. “Unity is committed to developing and recognising internal talent and these two promotions are testament to Matt and Andrew’s demonstrated banking and leadership experience. “Andrew’s network of contacts and his long history in retail and commercial banking will be invaluable to his team of relationship managers who will bring Unity’s services and expertise to more SME clients across the Midlands. “Matt’s banking expertise coupled with his passion for social impact will ensure that current and future customers in the South of England will continue to benefit from our values-led banking services. I wish both Matt and Andy every success in their new roles.” ENDS About Unity Trust Bank Unity is a specialist business bank with a difference. It lends to commercial firms and organisations who want to help society. With offices in Birmingham, London, and Manchester, it offers an ethical alternative for businesses with a social conscience.  For nearly 40 years the bank has worked with organisations and SMEs that share its values and philosophy, offering a full range of banking services including current accounts, savings accounts, and loans. Independent since December 2015, its purpose is to help create a better society, not just maximise profit. Unity’s focus on its customers, employees and the communities it serves is what sets it apart and allows it to deliver on the bank’s ‘Double Bottom Line’ strategy through volunteering, education, and fundraising. Unity is a Real Living Wage employer, a Fair Tax Mark business, a Women in Finance Charter signatory, a member of the Banking Standards Board and currently holds the Investors in People Gold standard. Visit www.unity.co.uk for more information. You can also follow Unity Trust Bank on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or go to its LinkedIn page.

22 Jun

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3 min