In 2015 we introduced our Community Investment Policy, with the intention of making our community investment more focused and strategic, where our financial support and the volunteering of skills and expertise from our employees could make the greatest impact.
A Charity Committee, comprising a cross section of employees, was established to oversee our charitable giving. Following a detailed review involving our employees, we decided to focus our community investment on supporting charities that help children and young people, the homeless and the disabled, in addition to supporting charities with military connections.
In FY 2016/17 Annington and its employees raised or donated over £160,000 to charities. The majority of this was used to support five key charity partners in line with the new Policy: Bag Books, The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Blind Veterans UK, HighGround Projects Ltd and The Ripple Pond. To help maximise the impact from these charity partnerships, Charity Champions have been appointed to work with the respective charities and engage fellow employees with fundraising and volunteering opportunities. The Group allows each employee to take a maximum of three days paid leave to undertake volunteering work.
The Community Investment Policy has really engaged our employees and the feedback we have had from those who have volunteered has been very positive. They believe they have benefited from giving back and working together as a team and the experiences have been very rewarding, giving them a new perspective.
Helps young people with severe learning disabilities through creating multi-sensory books and running interactive storytelling sessions for these children utilising the books. Such storytelling sessions help these young people develop their awareness of people and events and develop their participation in group activities. Annington has committed to partner with the charity for three years and donated £25,000 in FY 2016/17 to enable Bag Books to visit an additional 30 schools, providing the multi-sensory books and delivering storytelling sessions to 956 severely disabled young people. Teachers who have provided feedback on these interactive story sessions say 99% of the young people have benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling and 89% of the teachers rated the overall experience 5 out of 5. Additionally, a group of Annington employees volunteered a day with the charity helping to build these multi-sensory books.
The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Provides facilities and support to homeless individuals in London helping them to get their lives back on track, find employment and to secure housing. Annington has agreed to support the charity for three years and donated £25,000 this year towards operational costs. In the summer Staff volunteers took a group of the charity's Clients on a day out at Kew Gardens which was aimed at helping Clients connect with other individuals and reduce isolation. Our Staff Christmas collection raised nearly £500 and was spent on much needed homeware essentials for those Clients of the charity moving in to permanent housing.
Blind Veterans UK
Helps former servicemen and women who have become blind whether through active service, accident, injury, disease or old age. We have agreed to support the charity over three years, donating £25,000 each year to support a centre for rehabilitation and life skills for independent living at the Blind Veterans centre in Llandudno, Wales.
The Ripple Pond
Organises self-help support networks across the UK for the adult family members of physically or emotionally injured service personnel and veterans. Annington was the charity’s cornerstone benefactor and we have agreed to support them for three years, donating £25,000 in FY 2016/17. Annington employees have also volunteered their skills, helping the charity with their business plan, providing accounting services and financial planning and identifying additional funding streams for the charity.
Reading Force supports the social, emotional and mental wellbeing of Forces families through the experience of shared reading by providing free books and reading scrapbooks to members of the Forces and their families. The scheme also includes Veterans, Reservists and Former Forces partners and children. Annington's donation of £75,000 over the next three years has allowed the charity to recruit their very first Ambassador for Scotland.
In addition to supporting our five key charity partners, Annington has supported other good causes in areas where we work or have housing developments, through monetary or gift in-kind donations. One such example is a donation of £10,000 to RAF Spadeadam which has allowed the Base to develop an Integrated Welfare Facility for personnel. Our employees are also encouraged to support charities that they are passionate about, through fundraising and volunteering, with the company matching their fundraising efforts up to £1,000 per individual and £2,000 per team, per year. Staff took part in a number of fundraising activities in 2017 including the Cardiff Half Marathon.