Supporting local businesses

We continue to provide financial support to West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce's Eco-Network.

The Eco-Network, the steering group of which is chaired by Provident’s CR Manager, offers a wide range of products and services to help companies in the West Yorkshire district, many of which are part of our supply chain, to improve their eco-performance. This includes advice, training events and on-site support.

The Eco-Network’s annual environmental expo, Eco-Fair, aims to inspire businesses to change and to help them find green business solutions to everyday problems.

The 2014 Eco-Fair, which was held at the Leeds United football ground, gathered together over 1,000 delegates and offered over 30 free briefings on sustainability, environmental management, energy management, the circular economy and green buildings.

We also work with the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce to develop and deliver an initiative called Raising the Bar. This aims to engage small- and medium-sized enterprises in West Yorkshire on the wider CR agenda, helping them develop, measure and gain external recognition of their efforts.

In November 2014, 50 businesses from across West and North Yorkshire attended the Chamber’s Raising the Bar Awards. The Chamber’s corporate social responsibility scheme is now in its second year, and allows businesses of all shapes and sizes to record and benchmark the activities they undertake in the four key areas of community, education, economy and the environment.

In an evening of celebration, the category winners were announced as: Community – The Midland Hotel, Education – Rex Procter and Partners, Economy – Naylor Wintersgill and Environment – Christeyns. The overall winner for the second year running was Shipley-based architects Rance Booth Smith, with the judges being impressed by the fact that even though they won the award in 2013, they continued to ‘raise the bar’ even higher in 2014.

We've also been proud to support “Lead the Change” an innovative social enterprise programme from Unltd and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, delivered in the Yorkshire region by Participate Projects.  Lead the Change encourages social entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to a panel (including Provident employees) in a bid to secure the funding that they need to either launch or develop their ideas. The successful applicants then take part in a Social Venture School hosted in our Bradford head office, where they learn some of the essential skills they’ll need to successfully grow their enterprise.  Following their training, they’re paired with a Provident Financial Group employee who’ll become their mentor, working with them for six to twelve months.