Cheshire Community Foundation has a simple mission, Making Cheshire Better. The Foundation supports the corporate-giving programmes of local companies in order to strengthen local communities by directing local philanthropy to have maximum impact in the areas of greatest need.
Here, Joëlle Warren, the Chair of Cheshire CF, explains how the donations from two local companies, Bentley and MBNA, support their communities.
Bentley’s charitable fund with Cheshire Community Foundation was first established in 2012 with a donation of £25,000 and has been supplemented with an annual £25,000 donation. It was set up to add to the ongoing support that the company provides to well-known local charities and to complement existing staff fundraising.
Bentley chose Cheshire Community Foundation to manage and administer the fund for them so they could keep administration to a minimum, ensure an appropriate level of scrutiny and governance, and to channel the multiple demands it was facing from numerous charities.
The fund aims to support charities and community groups working in Cheshire but gives priority to those working in and benefiting the South Cheshire area (within a 20 mile radius of the Bentley site) and Crewe where there are high levels of deprivation and disadvantage.
Through the Foundation, Bentley is able to fund social enterprises and community interest companies alongside small volunteer run community groups. Many of these are often best placed within a very localised area to make the change needed in the community.
Bentley focuses its support on projects which address health, education, support children and young people and tackle social deprivation.
Issues addressed by Bentley funded groups have included:
- disability and access issues
- poverty and disadvantage
- racial and cultural integration
- rural isolation
- supporting family life
- and tackling loneliness
At the end of 2014 the fund had already made over £41,000 of donations making a significant difference to the work of the recipient organisations and, more importantly, to the lives of the people that benefit from their work.
To mark its 20th year in Chester in 2013, MBNA wanted to launch a year of company initiatives that would celebrate and recognise the support of local communities since it launched in the UK. It also wanted to acknowledge the efforts and commitment of its staff and the work that they had done in their local communities to support charities and schools.
Working with Cheshire Community Foundation, MBNA launched 3 grant programmes which would see them invest over £600,000 locally across Chester and further afield in Flintshire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Staffordshire where MBNA’s staff live.
The MBNA 20 School Grants Programme, the biggest of the three aimed to support projects in schools which would:
- enhance and add value to the national curriculum
- encourage health and wellbeing and healthy living
- increase children and young people’s aspirations
- enrich the life of the school community and its pupils
- foster greater links between the school and the community
- and increase parental involvement in children’s learning
117 schools were supported across the programme.
The Community Grants Programme supported 104 community groups such as residents or community associations, charities and grass-roots voluntary organisations where either MBNA Associates acted as volunteers or had an affiliation. Grants were awarded to projects focusing on:
- social inclusion and participation
- the local environment
- crime prevention
- community action
- sport and recreation
- and the prosperity of the local community
The final programme supported 13 charities with which it had already worked closely over the last 20 years. Each of these charities received £5,000 and the support of MBNA staff mentors in designing and running their funded project.
These programmes have had an impact on thousands of people across Cheshire and further afield.