Not just for Christmas: Embracing community, trust and belonging

Not just for Christmas: Embracing community, trust and belonging

With Christmas around the corner, organisations are full of festive spirit – with many looking to give back to the communities that help them thrive.

It is common for organisations to give back out of gratitude to the local support system that has helped them grow over the last 12-months. But there also tangible benefits to this charitable act: using your organisation’s voice to draw attention to the needs of community positively raises your profile. Similarly, striking up relationships with likeminded organisations creates opportunities for future collaboration.

As the year draws to a close, we wanted to know how our Faces get stuck into their communities, and get their thoughts on building communities rich in trust and a sense of belonging.

The ways in which our Faces demonstrate ‘giving back’ is broad: from charities that run food banks to businesses that offer innovative ways to fit work commitments around family life.

Businesses have to play a positive role in wider society, says Sarah Dunning, Chairman of The Westmorland Family, which runs service stations with a difference. “We want our communities to see the businesses as something they’re proud of,” says Sarah. “You can’t do that in isolation from the world around you.”

Sarah runs food programmes with local primary schools and has a hub for surplus food, ensuring supplies do not go to waste but instead go to those who need it. Sarah certainly isn’t the only one investing in charitable activity – 95% of our Faces’ organisations support charitable endeavours.

Solomon Smith and Dr Mahamed Hashi run Brixton Soup Kitchen – the London-based charity that they launched in 2012 after seeing footage of the homeless during the winter weather. Earlier this month they tweeted about their commitment to feeding more than 150 people this Christmas, and reached out to a household name business to help them achieve this.

The Faces are filled with ideas about how to make a positive impact on their local community. Gina Rowlands, Managing Director of Bevan Healthcare – an organisation that provides primary medical care to the homeless, asylum seekers and refugees – says “strong partnerships with the local voluntary sector, faith groups, local businesses and education institutions” means Bevan Healthcare is able “to take people from crisis to futures.”

Such creative initiatives are stellar examples of the constructive impact businesses can have on the community. They also support the findings of the Vibrant Economy Index, which revealed that the traditional indicators of economic prosperity such as GVA, average earnings and business turnover do not correlate with other measurements of performance, such as health, equality and opportunity. Hence why Cambridge topped the Vibrant Economy index in 2016 – not a London borough. To find out more about the Index’s findings, go here.

The Faces demonstrate a commitment to creating trusting environments where people feel they belong, in part thanks to the way they treat their workforce. Take Glenn Elliott for example, Founder of Reward Gateway, which offers industry-leading employee benefits to organisations across the UK. He’s just one of the 68% of Faces that say their employees are rewarded for, and share in, the success of the organisation.

Businesses stand to gain by making their environment the very best it can be, agrees Karime Hassan, the Chief Executive and Growth Director of Exeter City Council. “Why be in a place like Exeter? We have to make it a great place for businesses and individuals. The lifestyle on offer here is one based around the environment.”

The moral of this Christmas story? There’s much more on the minds of top British business leaders than profit.