Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Service station chain establishes its own charity

Moto in the Community Trust is the first charity set up by a motorway services operator in the UK, writes Anita Pati.

Moto, the UK's largest motorway service provider, has launched its own charity to help employees and local causes.

The chain, which was formerly known as Granada, had a history of fundraising for national charities among both its staff and customers, and decided that consolidating all its fundraising activities through a charity would be more cost-effective. Moto in the Community Trust is believed to be the first charity set up by a UK motorway services operator.

The charity's main aims are to work with community projects, foster links with local charities, encourage staff volunteering, raise awareness of road safety issues on motorways and create a hardship fund for Moto staff.

"It's a better way to raise money because we can claim tax back through Gift Aid," said Emma Sohl, a spokeswoman for the new charity.

"It also means that we can implement other areas of the charity, such as staff volunteering, which we wouldn't be able to do if we were just raising money for a national charity."

Moto hopes to raise at least £250,000 in its first year, to complement the £750,000 that its staff have already raised for other charities.

The company currently employs up to 6,000 staff across 48 sites in the UK.

"Motorways are traditionally seen as a blot on the environment and Moto is increasingly trying to become less of one, said Sohl. "All of our sites are beautifully landscaped with green areas."

To address the environmental impact, Moto's staff donned fancy dress and held raffles and colouring competitions last August Bank Holiday weekend, raising £25,000 for the Woodland Trust.

The new trust will also try to promote road safety by encouraging every site to forge links with a local school. It hopes that local schools will use Moto facilities to promote road safety by, for example, running cycling proficiency tests. Moto already works with the Department for Transport on its Think campaign, which warns drivers not to drive when tired, and plays radio adverts with this message in its service stations.

In terms of volunteering, the money raised by the charity will be used to fund replacements for the staff who are on sabbatical, "so they won't feel guilty having time away from work and so the site doesn't suffer from having a member of staff missing".

There is also a benevolent fund, which, two days after its launch, received an application from a staff member who had experienced domestic violence.

She had not been able to pay her water bill because she had been in hospital.

"We've been working to help our communities for some time," said Brian Lotts, managing director of Moto. "We want to do more to make a difference."

anita.pati@haynet.com

KEY POINTS

- Moto, the UK's biggest motorway service provider, has launched a charity to help employees and local causes

- Moto in the Community Trust is believed to be the first charity set up by a UK motorway services operator

- The new charity will be more tax-efficient, encourage volunteering and fundraising, and provide a hardship fund

- It is also intended to raise awareness of environmental and road safety issues, and promote road safety within local schools

- The charity hopes to raise at least £250,000 in its first year, to September 2006.

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