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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 better.org.uk

22 Jun

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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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