Our approach to community involvement reflects the fact that we have a presence in almost every town and city in the UK and Ireland. These towns and cities differ greatly so we work with a variety of community partners to address a wide range of issues depending on the local community’s needs. It also underlines our commitment to use our community involvement programmes, to train, develop and motivate our employees.
The strategy behind our community involvement activities has stood the test of time for many years and comprises two strands:
- Helping to address the social inclusion needs of people who live in deprived communities
- Supporting the money advice sector to address issues such as financial education and carry out research into matters which relate to our customers
Good Neighbour is our flagship CR programme, helping fulfil our ambition to be the UK's leading community-based lender by creating opportunities for our people to work with our communities.
Being a good neighbour
The vast majority of our community involvement activities are delivered through our Good Neighbour programme. Established in 2009, Good Neighbour delivers support in three ways:
- by identifying and supporting projects in the communities where our offices and employees are based to address issues that are relevant to the needs of those communities;
- by encouraging our employees to take part in company-led volunteering initiatives; and
- by providing employees with matched-funding for the fundraising and volunteering activities they undertake outside work.
Vanquis Bank runs a separate ‘Active Community Programme’ to encourage employee volunteering and provide support to local charities in London and Chatham, and through the international charity ‘Hatua’ in Nairobi, Kenya.
Providing benefits to the communities we serve
We are currently supporting 39 three-year Good Neighbour projects across the UK and Ireland.
These projects are evaluated on an ongoing basis so that we can understand the community and business benefits of the initiatives we support and the activities our employees engage in. This enables us to ensure that the support we provide through the Good Neighbour programme and other activities is invested in the right places. It also helps to ensure that we continually improve how we work with our many community partners.
The structures we have in place guarantee that, despite economic uncertainty, CR remains a core part of our business.
Examples of our Good Neighbour projects include:
St Petrock’s – This organisation supports and encourages people who are homeless or inadequately housed to improve their circumstances and take more control of their lives. Our funding has helped to set up Project Petrock, an independent Co-operative Community Interest Company. This project helps people who are or have recently been homeless get back into employment, education or training by offering volunteering opportunities, improving confidence and self-esteem, and giving additional support.
- The project has employed an experienced builder who has trained a team of six volunteers who are homeless to deliver a range of housing and garden maintenance activities through the Project Petrock social enterprise.
- Project Petrock is currently providing its volunteers with 20-30 hours of volunteering opportunities per week.
Sycamore Project (Zac’s Bar) – This project engages young people in long-term constructive activities that develop positive attitudes, self-esteem, aspiration and facilitate personal development. Our funding is supporting a gap year scheme for post-A-level or post-degree students that provides them with opportunities to work with young people. The funding is also allowing the project to maintain and further develop its work rather than reduce provisions in response to funding cuts.
- Since 2011, the project has recruited eight gap year students to provide mentoring, arts and sports sessions and after-school support to young people.
- Through the project, the eight gap year students have engaged the young people that use Zac’s Bar in activities that develop positive attitudes, self-esteem, aspiration and confidence.
Scholemoor Beacon – We have supported the Scholemoor Beacon, a sports and community centre on Bradford’s Scholemoor estate, since 2004. We currently part-fund the Beacon’s Community Sport Development Officer and Community Neighbourhood Worker who deliver a range of initiatives to promote education, health and social welfare amongst residents of the estate. Over the past nine years a considerable amount of work has been carried out which has seen the derelict land on which the community centre stands be transformed into an outdoor recreation and sports facility.
- Scholemoor Beacon has delivered a range of services over the past 12 months, including street hockey, healthy living classes and school holiday projects, which have directly benefited 494 local residents.
- The project runs a weekly job club which provides residents with help on job applications, interview skills and CV writing, which has enabled three people to gain employment.
Hatua–Hatua means “the next step” in Swahili and is a UK registered charity, supported by Vanquis Bank. The selection of an international charity partner is part of Vanquis Bank’s overall Active Community Programme, which also supports local and national charities linked primarily to the well-being of children.
- The charity helps talented children from Nairobi’s slums, who typically come from families living on less than $1 a day.
- Hatua has helped 34 talented children from Nairobi’s slums to get secondary school places.
We continued to encourage employees from across our businesses to participate in their communities through volunteering and fundraising. Employees are able to participate in team challenges which seek to address local community needs, reading and mathematics schemes which provide one-to-one support to children in need of additional assistance, and other volunteering initiative in their communities.
We work in partnership with organisations such as Credit Action and DebtCred to deliver a range of financial education initiatives. For example, in 2012, Credit Action worked with us to deliver training to some of the community partners we support through the Good Neighbour programme. The focus of the training was to empower the community partners to be able to communicate effectively with young people in the 16-20 age range on money matters by enabling them to run short activity-based sessions on financial planning and budgeting.