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 2017/18 Annington and its employees raised or donated nearly £200,000 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.
One military family’s experience of the lasting power of shared reading is the inspiration behind this highly effective charity. Children struggling to understand why a parent is absent, often internalize their emotions rendering them virtually silent during the all-important call home. Through providing free books, Reading Force gives families a starting point for a conversation. Chats which begin about thoughts on a shared book lead to other topics, making these calls fun, informative and of real emotional value. By nurturing that feeling of connectedness, children are happier and parents worry less because they have had a meaningful conversation with their youngsters. Annington's donation of £75,000 over the next three years has allowed the charity to recruit their very first Ambassador for Scotland. Annington made an additional donation of £25,000 in July 2018 to help the charity with core costs.
Helps young people with severe learning disabilities through the creation of multi-sensory books and running interactive storytelling sessions for these children utilising the books. In FY 2017/2018 Annington made the third of three donations of £25,000 which enabled the charity to run storytelling sessions at an additional 30 Special Schools near military bases. Annington also made an additional donation to fund the creation of a new book 'Home for Christmas'.
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 in FY 2017/2018 made its third donation of £25,000. Annington also made an additional donation in response to the charity's Cold Weather Appeal in March 2018 and 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.
Blind Veterans UK
Helps former servicemen and women who have become blind whether through active service, accident, injury, disease or old age. In FY 2017/2018, Annington made the third of three donations of £25,000 to support the charity's Life Skills for Independent Living at the Blind Veterans centre in Llandudno, Wales. In July 2018, Annington supported the charity launch its new regional strategy by hosting an event at the House of Lords.
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 2017/18. As part of our 'in-kind' support, Annington employees have volunteered their skills, helped the charity with their business plan and financial planning and two staff continue to provide accounting services.
In addition to supporting our five key charity partners, Annington has supported other good causes in areas where we work or have housing developments. One such example is a donation of £10,000 to the Royal Marines Tadpoles Nursery in Poole, supplementing a £4,000 donation made by the Annington Trust. The money has enabled the nursery to make significant improvements to its garden, including the installation of a outdoor shelter which will allow the children to utilise the garden all year round.
In late 2018, Annington agreed to support a number of new charities, including The Silver Line. The Silver Line is the UK's only 24 hour, free, confidential helpline for vulnerable and isolated older people, open every day and night of the year. Since its launch in November 2013, the helpline has received more than 2.2 million calls, over half from older people who have no one else to turn to. More than two thirds of calls are at night and weekends and Annington's donation of £100,000 will allow fund 20,000 calls over the next 12 months.