Peterborough’s Corporate Social Responsibility forum off to a flying start

A new scheme has successfully created a number of links between Peterborough’s businesses, community groups and charities.

Dozens of businesses have signed up to the Side by Side website which helps firms who engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) work to target their activities in areas where Peterborough’s need is greatest, and then share their experiences.

Launched in May and likened to a dating agency, the one-stop-shop website helps put businesses interested in getting involved in CSR activities in touch with contacts and community projects looking for support. This can be by working as volunteers, or providing specialist expertise, investment or in-kind donations.

One community organisation which has seen the benefits of the scheme is Read Easy. The organisation recruits, trains and allocates volunteers to give one-to-one tuition to adults who struggle with reading.

So far, two businesses have signed up to the Read Easy scheme. Two volunteers have been trained and five more are due to be trained in November.

Chair of Read Easy Peterborough, Christine Graham, said: “The scheme is developing well. One of the challenges has been to make contact with those who are in need of the scheme. However, we have made good progress with links being made with organisations supporting those with particular needs such as adults with learning disabilities and homeless people. This is bringing in more readers to the scheme and we are encouraged about the progress being made.”

Project co-ordinator for the Werrington Anniversary Garden, Alan Smith, also revealed links have been created through Side by Side.

He said: “I’ve had three responses from businesses wanting to see how they could help. We have now got a much better idea of the plan for the garden and have reached the key stage of seeking funding. We are putting together a bid for the Heritage Lottery Fund but any Peterborough businesses who want to support us financially would be greatly appreciated.”

The Werrington Anniversary Garden will be a public garden situated in front of Werrington Library. Built by Peterborough people, it will give a pictorial history of the Werrington area as well as plants, flowers and other garden features.

Elton-based design and web agency Speed pledged its support to RiverCare (a partnership between Peterborough Environment City Trust, Anglian Water and Keep Britain), which aims to set up community groups to look after the River Nene.

Seven staff attended an informative event to learn about how to set up a group to tackle litter and carry out wildlife surveys such as spotting signs of otters.

Roger Lowe, Head of Community Services at Enterprise Peterborough , is delighted with the links the company has created with the city’s Railworld site.

He said: “Now the Side by Side website is up and running it provides our employees with a focal point to connect with a wide variety of local charities that need our support.

“Put to the vote back in August, Railworld became the first project to receive support from the volunteers here at Enterprise. Since then they have provided over 90 hours of help; planting bulbs and shrubs, weeding and painting. Apart from the satisfaction of helping out the community, it will be rewarding see the results of all that hard work next spring when everything comes into bloom.”

Claire Higgins, Director of Operations at Cross Keys Homes, a founder member and major funding partner of the forum, said: “It’s great to see Peterborough businesses taking advantage of the Side by Side corporate social responsibility forum. It’s good that the forum is moving apace since launching in the summer and I really hope lots more businesses will take the opportunity to visit the Side by Side website to gather information that will enable them to take that step into active support for projects that will really benefit Peterborough and its residents as a whole.”

All businesses in the city are urged to visit the website and get involved in the projects featured.