Nat Sloane of the Big Lottery Fund England, which awarded the grant, says it is a 'game-changing opportunity' to have a lasting impact
The grant is for the charity’s Business Connectors programme. Business connectors are people trained by BITC and others to develop partnerships between businesses and community organisations in deprived neighbourhoods of England.
A statement from the BLF said the funding, announced today, would leverage £39m of support from businesses in terms of staff time and support and would bring in an additional £52m of value to communities.
The programme will recruit and support at least 670 business connectors to work in more than 200 areas over the next five years.
Companies that have signed up to Business Connectors include Sainsbury’s, BT, Royal Mail, Lloyds Banking Group and Waitrose.
The award has been made as one of the BLF’s ‘solicited bids’, where it works with a specific organisation or group of organisations to award funding outside of its usual grant-making programmes.
Nat Sloane, chair of Big Lottery Fund England, said in a statement: "This investment of £4.8m in the Business Connectors scheme provides a game-changing opportunity to harness the traditions of the voluntary and community sector with the power of business to escalate positive social change at a local level and have a lasting impact on people and communities most in need."
Stephen Howard, chief executive of Business in the Community, said: "With youth unemployment at over a million and one in seven shops on UK high streets standing empty, it is vital to leverage private sector support to increase enterprise and employment and support education in the UK. Business Connectors has already proved to be an extremely successful way to make this happen."
A BLF statement said Business Connectors was conceived in 2010 when the Prince of Wales, who is president of BITC, realised that one person was needed to "join up the dots" between businesses and communities in order to make things happen.