Playing an active part in our local communities
As a locally driven business, our policy is to encourage staff at each of our sites to support and engage with local community activities.
In 2011, our staff were responsible for 2,229 donations to local good causes (2010: 2,100), amounting to some £814k across the Group (2010: £793k). Cash and stock donations, together with employee fund raising activities, typically supported local schools, village halls, care homes, hospices, sports clubs, youth groups and many other community activities.
Over seven years ago we formed a partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability. Like Howdens, Leonard Cheshire Disability is a locally focused organisation. Since its foundation in 1948, Leonard Cheshire Disability has benefited from the work of volunteers from local communities, with over 1,000 volunteers per year recruited to support a network of services across the UK. For the past five years Howden Joinery Group has funded many areas of Leonard Cheshire Disability's volunteer recruitment and training programme, including as of this year the "Can Do" Initiative.
The "Can Do" project offers social support and mentoring to groups of young disabled people across the country. For many of these young people (mostly aged 16-25), the support network they have always relied on will invariably cease after they finish school or college. The objective is to prevent social exclusion by including them in local activities and supporting them to find long-term volunteering positions that in a few cases may lead to employment.
Every year our staff take up various fundraising challenges to raise funds for Leonard Cheshire Disability. Howdens usually fields a big team for the Great North Run, and 2011 saw a record entry of 30 people. For the third year in a row these runners have raised sufficient funds to buy an adapted minibus for one of the charity's homes. We also entered two teams for a new mixed ability triathlon (Tri-Together) in south London as well as individual entries in The London Marathon and The Royal Parks Half Marathon.
In June another record was set with the level of support and funds raised for the charity in the annual "Tea For Ability Week". Depots collected donations for the complimentary tea or coffee they supply all year round as well as for promotional mugs donated by Howdens.
Inspired by working with their residents, our inclusive kitchen research with Leonard Cheshire Disability has enabled us to offer relevant, affordable kitchens to people of all abilities. In 2011, we donated another four activity kitchens as well as revisiting four kitchens installed in previous years to carry out modifications and / or improvements following feedback from residents and staff. Four further, similar projects have already been designed and are ready for installation.
One of these, a first for Leonard Cheshire Disability, involves the conversion of an outbuilding at one of their homes into a large multiability semi-commercial training kitchen. Young people with learning disabilities will be able to take part in accredited catering courses led by professional staff, with the possibility that some students could go on to attain qualifications and employment.
We are proud of the fact that our staff, our customers and all our stakeholders take such an active part in giving something back to their local communities. In celebration of their generosity, we continue to publish our "Truly Local" books - pocket-sized illustrated books that tell the stories of people everywhere who enrich our lives on a daily basis through their engagement with their local community. We are lucky in the fact that these books represent only a fraction of the good work carried out by our staff and customers and their families as part of their daily lives.
29 February 2012