Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Side by side

Surrey based charity Disability Challengers has just purchased a second site for a play centre after its sponsor, the decorators merchant Brewers, donated £800,000.

- Ric Law, chief executive, Disability Challengers

We're a small organisation trying to expand and we needed to come up with a strategy to strengthen our infrastructure. We provide play and leisure facilities for disabled children and young people and have 800 families on our waiting list, for whom we need more space. We only lease our current centre and wanted to acquire a second property we could call our own.

Six years ago, Brewers approached us because it was looking for a charitable project to work with through its centenary last year and beyond. The most important thing was the ongoing commitment it gave us. With its £800,000, we were finally able to purchase a disused school, which should be converted into a play centre within a year.

Voluntary organisations have to be careful whose money they take. If you don't agree how to work together, you can be in very hot water. We're very keen that young disabled people are respected and not objectified.

Brewers instantly understood the concept that young disabled people are not to be pitied. We have a cordial, professional relationship.

- Mark Brewer, chief executive, Brewers

We're a family-run business and my cousin, Chris Brewer, had already been working with Disability Challengers while at another company. But then we started looking specifically for a charity to support for our centenary year in 2004, one of the criteria being that it needed to be near us geographically so our staff could visit. We also wanted to provide seed money to support a project that might not otherwise get off the ground.

We wanted to use our in-house expertise to help it achieve the right outcomes.

Over the years, we've helped Disability Challengers through the politics of negotiating contracts with local authorities. It has had access to our in-house solicitor and we've also provided advice on refurbishment of properties from our premises department. In the end, this is about realising part of the company philosophy of social responsibility - we believe it is right to give as well as to take. The first objective of business, having made some money, is to spend it wisely. We say that putting money back into society is money well spent. Our company has always had a strong ethical approach to business.

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