Business Charity Awards: Short-term Partnership – Southern Co op with Society of St James for Love your Neighbourhood, Safer Neighbourhoods

Awarded to an outstanding partnership between a company and a UK charity that has lasted, or will last, less than three years

SSJ’s café
SSJ’s café

What was the partnership?

With a strategic focus on “protecting [its] people”, which included reducing criminogenic factors such as drug and alcohol abuse, Southern Co-op was eager to develop a partnership that worked to address issues in its local communities. Its 2019 partnership with the Society of St James, a Hampshire-based homelessness charity, aimed to make this a reality.

What did it do?

Southern Co-op worked with SSJ’s Portsmouth Social Enterprise Café, which provides opportunities for adults who have been supported by the charity to build meaningful employability skills. When disadvantaged adults working at the cafe proposed an initiative called Pay it Forward, to mobilise people in the local community to help the local homeless population, Southern Co-Op’s marketing department worked with them to make it a reality. It also spearheaded a management training programme within the charity and took part in more traditional volunteering activities.

Why did it win?

Since July 2019, SSJ has sold 1,434 Pay it Forward vouchers, which have been redeemed by disadvantaged adults across Portsmouth, providing additional income for the Social Enterprise Café. Café staff involved in the project were trained in communications and marketing, with their learnings put into practice with continued mentoring from Southern Co-Op staff. Attitudes towards issues such as drugs and homelessness across the business have been positively influenced. As well as equipping people with vital professional skills, the partnership’s project manager introduced the charity to local contractors looking to give back to their community, to discuss purchasing property ring-fenced for people with a history of homelessness.

What did the judges say?

Alex Ruddock-West, PR manager for TalkTalk, praised the partnership, adding that it “clearly addresses important issues within local communities” as well as successfully tackling negative attitudes towards drug and alcohol misuse. “The teams involved have raised a fantastic amount through traditional fundraising opportunities that require a huge amount of time and energy from those involved,” she said. “The level of training delivered was really impressive.”


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