- Nearly 1,200 matches between business offers of support and schools, charities and local community groups across the UK have been made, since the start of the COVID-19 crisis
- Technology is by far the most matched request in Northern Ireland with offers of support from businesses
- Food, technology, clothing and skills support are the biggest community needs, which urgently require more support from businesses
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Business Response Network has made nearly 1,200 (1,191) matches between local community groups, schools and charities, with businesses that have been able to meet their urgent needs during the crisis.
In Northern Ireland alone, 99 matches were made with recipients. Recent examples of matches made in Northern Ireland include:
- Employees from Citi Belfast took action to support key workers, people and communities affected by COVID-19 and were matched with The Trussell Trust and The Community Foundation Northern Ireland. Donations made were matched by Citi UK – up to £50,000 – on top of two direct donations of £10,000 from Citi.
- Allstate NI supported Business in the Community, Belfast City Council and the Bytes Project with a series of skills meetings to give guidance on the purchasing and set up of 150 devices to go to families in need across Belfast. Staff committed 12 hours to ensure the funding was spent appropriately and is continuing to support the project.
- ABP Food Group provided meals for the local community through the Portadown Wellness Centre.
Across the UK, Tesco Mobile donated 798 mobile phones to 12 charities. Preloaded with SIMs, the phones are helping charities and community organisations to continue supporting vulnerable people throughout the pandemic.
The Business Response Network was launched in April by Business in the Community Northern Ireland and is linking with the wider Business in the Community organisation across the UK. Nationally, the network has received a total of £2 million investment from AXA and the London Stock Exchange Group, with each contributing £1 million to accelerate the initiative.
The network focuses its activity on four key areas, helping communities navigate their way through the coronavirus pandemic:
· Food: Ensuring people have continued access to food
· Technology: Support to enable children to continue learning, and older people to stay connected to families
· Community support: Support to vulnerable groups and older people to enable continued access to food, healthcare, social interaction and other essentials
· Small businesses: Creating resources with advice and practical tools specifically for small businesses; providing business continuity and wellbeing support through mentoring for small businesses
To date, food has been by far the most matched request across the UK, with offers of support from businesses (558 matches).
Community organisations in need of help and businesses wanting to offer their support can visit the Business Response Network online board of needs and offers: www.bitcni.org.uk/brn
The four areas that most urgently need support from business are: food, technology, clothing and skills support.
Kieran Harding, managing director of Business in the Community, said:
“One way or another everyone is fighting to get through where we find ourselves right now, and in nearly every instance we’ve seen the best way to achieve this is for local groups, charities and businesses to come together.
“This makes the milestone of 1,000 matches of business donations connected to local community needs all the more impressive and inspiring. Thank you to everyone, and to all those who’ve made the 99 connections in Northern Ireland; you’ve made such a difference in just eight weeks. Don’t stop now. Businesses have dormant resources they might not have even thought about, that we can connect to our communities so much in need. ‘Open your cupboards’, see what you have, and get in touch.”
Lucinda Charles-Jones, AXA UK & Ireland HR director & Business in the Community UK Board of Trustees director:
“One thousand matches between communities in need and companies that are able to offer support is an incredible milestone. Food, technology and resources have been provided to those that have needed it most during the pandemic. But we can’t stop now. There are still hundreds of schools, charities and community groups out there that need our help, so if you are a business who wants to get involved, no matter how big or small, please sign up to the Business Response Network.”