As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on towns and cities across the UK intensifies, the need to link business support to community need in the right place, at the right time and at the right scale has never been more urgent.
Business in the Community (BITC) – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network with over 750 companies in membership, have launched the National Business Response Network (NRBN) to identify community needs across the UK and match them to the right business support.
Through BITC’s vast regional and local connections and leaders on the ground, the NBRN identifies national and local community needs from community groups, schools, local authorities, local resilience bodies, charities and alliances such as the British Red Cross Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership and small businesses. The network then connects business resources to meet the following needs:
- Food: Ensuring people have continued access to food.
- Technology: Support to enable children to continue learning, and older people to stay connected to families.
- Social care: 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.
The business resources being matched to community needs are:
- Professional support: Using the untapped resources and goodwill of our member companies to provide human resource to support communities in the UK.
- Lending/donating resources: Lending or donating resources to organisations and people to meet need.
- Logistics: Transportation of people, goods and services.
Amanda Mackenzie OBE, chief executive of BITC, said:
“We know the impact that businesses can have at times like these and our members tell us every day how much they want to make a difference to those most in need.
“Founded over 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales, we are the oldest and largest network of our kind, bringing business together on resilience, emergency response and long-term recovery. Whether it’s floods, cyber-attacks or riots, we have always matched local need with the enormous support businesses can and want to offer. The Covid-19 crisis is no different. Through our network, we can provide lifelines to people and communities affected by the pandemic.
“We know what local communities need as they battle the impact of Covid-19 on their towns and cities and we’re calling on businesses who want to offer support to contact us to make sure their support gets to the right place at the right time.”
The NBRN is already delivering business support direct to communities. FareShare is a charity aimed at relieving food poverty and reducing food waste in the UK. It does this by rescuing good quality surplus food that would otherwise have gone to waste and sending it to almost 11,000 charity and community groups across the United Kingdom.
BITC identified that Fareshare distribution centres in Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle needed support with food distribution and matched them with a London North Eastern Railway (LNER) offer to provide support. LNER have distributed over 11,000 sandwiches and are working with us to look at how they might increase the scale of this further.
To meet Fareshare’s needs, the NBRN:
- Identified and mapped community need in the regions: The delivery and impact team have worked through our existing community networks to identify needs and gaps in support and map this across our regional networks.
- Solicited support: Requested the support of the leading businesses across all of our regions through our member network and relationship managers.
- Brokered the support between the businesses and Fareshare: Facilitated conversations between LNER and Fareshare regional distribution centres and multiple independent food charities to distribute LNER’s supply of food to centres and charities in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds and York.
Community organisations in need of help can log their requests with by calling the 24-hour hotline (0141 285 3821), emailing email@example.com or posting to the online board of needs and offers: www.businessresponsecovid.org.uk
All companies who want to offer support are being urged to get in touch to find out where their help is most needed. They can also post their offers on the online board or can find out more by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org