Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Bank recognised for funding Merseyside initiatives

Anita Pati, anita.pati@haynet.com

A Liverpool community foundation has given its corporate social responsibility prize to Alliance & Leicester.

The Community Foundation for Merseyside has awarded its new CSR accolade to Alliance & Leicester. The bank has distributed £65,000 to voluntary groups and community organisations across the region since 2002.

The award was one of several made at the foundation's newly launched Spirit of Merseyside Awards. It is the area's biggest grant-making organisation, and it planned the awards to turn the spotlight on community regeneration in Merseyside as the area prepares for Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Other awards included Best Youth Group and Best Inclusion Project.

Emma Leaman, director of fundraising and development at the foundation, said: "Every day, the foundation witnesses the behind-the-scenes efforts of the area's many community groups, companies and individuals.

"With Liverpool's year as Capital of Culture only two years away, and with massive regeneration happening on Merseyside, we saw 2006 as the ideal opportunity to celebrate these efforts."

Last year the foundation distributed more than £6.5m in funding to 2,000 community groups in the region.

Vicky Matthews, CSR manager at Alliance & Leicester, said: "We are very pleased to win, especially since this was a vote by the general public, who recognised our work in the local community."

About 1,000 individuals and community groups voted on the foundation's website,which is used as a resource for local people. The CSR award recognises the bank's work with groups in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Wigan.

One of its flagship projects is Speke Adventure Playground. In this case, a move to new premises with surplus land prompted staff to apply to the Alliance & Leicester Fund, which is administered by the Community Foundation for Merseyside. Instead of letting the extra land to go to waste, the playground committee decided to develop a small sensory garden for children at the site with a £500 grant.

Ann Shaw, senior play worker at Speke, said: "Thanks to the support from the Alliance & Leicester Fund, we've been able to get young children involved in conservation and gardening and have encouraged them to take ownership of an educational project that will benefit the environment.

"We're also planning to install play equipment at the centre, which will make the centre even more appealing to local children."

Cherie Booth QC, patron of the foundation, added: "More than 4,000 community and voluntary groups have used the funding the foundation provides to make change happen in their neighbourhoods."

KEY POINTS

- The Community Foundation for Merseyside has given Alliance & Leicester a CSR accolade at its newly launched Spirit of Merseyside Awards

- The award recognises the bank's work with groups in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Wigan

- The foundation is the biggest grant-making body in the Merseyside area - It planned the awards to publicise community regeneration taking place in the run-up to Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture in 2008

- In 2005, the foundation gave more than £6.5m worth of funding to 2,000 community groups.

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