• ClaireLouise

Business and Employee Guidance: How to effectively support your local community

At this time, many businesses and individuals are keen to offer their support to the most vulnerable in society.

At the same time, businesses are facing difficult operating conditions, with productivity reduced due to social distancing requirements, or staff placed on furlough unable to work. This may provide opportunity for staff members to give their time and expertise to support others.

If you have been thinking about how you might help, the following short guidance aims to help you maximize the impact that you can make for your local communities.

Understand what you can offer

It’s FAR FAR better all round, if you have a good idea of the level and type of support you can offer before you reach out. This means that your services can quickly be targeted to those who need them. You know your skills and capacity better than anyone else!

Think about your business – what is your specialism? How might your skills benefit people? Involve your team in this – set up a zoom call and encourage people to be involved. It will be great for morale, give the opportunity to catch up with everyone, and encourage some really great ideas.

Think about physical services you could provide. For instance, do you have company vehicles, or equipment which can keep people safe or transport goods/people? Do you have software which could be shared?

Think about your professional skills. Do you have a finance team that could offer advice for people experiencing hardship? HSE or logistics teams who can support co-ordination of goods to those in need? Social marketers than can support communities to stay connected online? Map the skills and abilities of your team members - include skills and interests that they have outside the workplace as well.

Consider your limitations. It’s easy to get carried away with the best of intentions and promise support you then find difficult to deliver. Think about business constraints, equipment and people’s availability, and legal and safety considerations. Your duty is to keep your staff safe and protected – consider any negative issues that may arise and how you would address these.

Understand your Communities Needs

Once you have mapped what you can offer, the next step is to understand community need. If you understand the challenges that your local community and public sector institutions are experiencing, you can make sure that the help you’re giving is really making a difference.

The best way to do this is to ask the charitable organizations that already support vulnerable groups.

You may already be aware of, or supporting, a local charity which works with vulnerable groups. Similarly, your local GP or pharmacy, school, nursery or any other organization providing a key worker service may need support. Use your social media and connections to let your community know you are offering support.

Ask local service providers what type of support they might benefit from. Discuss what you can offer. Between you, you can then identify the best way for you to provide support for that particular group of people.

An alternative option is to contact your local CVS (Community and Voluntary Solutions) organization. These organisations tend to be District or County-wide and represent the charity sector within their area. At the moment, most CVS’s will be coordinating volunteering opportunities, and will best understand how charitable voluntary organisations need support.

Business in the Community has also established a National Business Response Network aiming to identify community needs across the UK and match them to the right business support.

This isn’t a definitive guide to what’s happening in your area. Talk to your local business support organisations, as they will have community links too.

Be flexible, open minded and expect the unexpected.

This is a way to keep staff motivated, give them a sense of purpose and help society.

Good luck!

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