We aim to use our expertise, resources and influence for wider public benefit.
We work with a range of partners including non-for profit organisations, charities, educational establishments and other local community groups, recognising that our long-term support enables them to make a difference through their activities.
In considering initiatives a ecting our local area, we seek to engage with residents and other community groups for their views. In the year ahead we will be developing our engagement to ensure we better communicate with our local communities to explain work we are doing, show them how we can help and encourage them to work collaboratively with us.
The Community Investment Committee, chaired by one of our Property Directors, oversees our programme of community investment and activity. Our support takes a variety of forms, including financial and in-kind donations through provision of short and long-term accommodation, advice and time given by employees. We often link our community support with marketing events so that community groups are able to leverage from these activities, to raise awareness and the profile of their organisation. This year, including our Covid Community Fund, our financial, in-kind and employee time contributions totalled £866,000.
Engagement and activities during the year
We have a range of community support activities across our villages. As part of our programme we finance a daytime outreach worker from The Connection at St Martins, a homeless charity which focuses on help for rough sleepers. We are a founding member of the House of St. Barnabas and support their employability programme which helps homeless people into work.
In Chinatown, we fund a part-time advice worker at the Chinese Community Centre, who helps the Chinese speaking community with a wide range of issues. In addition, we support the Chinese Health and Wellbeing Clinic, which deals with physical and mental health. Across our other villages we contribute to a range of activities, including a grassroots community centre at the Dragon Hall Trust and, sponsoring the Donmar Theatre. As part of Silver Sunday we cosponsored the Westminster Tea Dance for senior citizens and we helped pay for 1,000 afternoon tea gift boxes to elderly and isolated people in Westminster.
Supporting organisations which have a specific local expertise means that we can have more impact than acting alone. We partner with the Young Westminster and Young Camden Foundations in their work to support young people across the boroughs. At Westminster Kingsway College, our partnership since 2014 has enabled a number of educational projects for students in the Creative Arts Faculty. This year’s project involved students designing a tote bag. Responding to a commercial brief set by our marketing team which challenged them to take inspiration from Seven Dials, and research of the area. Providing valuable practical experience, shortlisted students presented their ideas to our marketing team who gave feedback for the students to build on. We have continued our longterm relationship with Soho Parish Primary School and this year we contributed to their new website in addition to the provision of laptops and food vouchers provided through our Covid Community Fund.
As a result of the pandemic, many of our community partners’ traditional sources of funding have been reduced and often there has been additional demand on the services they provide. In March 2020 we established our Covid Community Fund, to provide them with additional financial support.