Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Side by side

The Depaul Trust, which works with homeless and disadvantaged young people, has had an informal partnership since 1997 with communications agency Publicis.

NIKKI ARDEN, HEAD OF DONOR DEVELOPMENT, DEPAUL TRUST

The relationship started because the Publicis offices were opposite our New to London hostel and it was looking for a charity to support.

Publicis used to donate food and presents at Christmas, but the relationship developed further because it was looking for a charity partner.

One of the first big projects it delivered to us was a huge interactive TV advert: Publicis had come up with this technology that it wanted to showcase by trying it out on us. It did this pro bono, so goodness knows how much it would have cost otherwise.

The best thing about working with the agency is its experience and buying power.

Because of its size, it is able to get some really good deals and place our adverts in national papers. We don't have a specific PR person in Depaul Trust, so the relationship is great for raising our profile within the media.

Publicis is a very forward-thinking company and we are always looking for innovative ways of working with it.

GARY GRANT, BRAND DIRECTOR, PUBLICIS

This has turned out to be a pretty organic relationship. The most fabulous thing about working with the Depaul Trust is the degree of flexibility it allows us. The fact that the charity makes no real demands of us means we have the freedom to choose how to help it much more than we would otherwise.

The flexibility gives our staff a fantastic canvas on which to paint our creative ideas, and Depaul is receptive to anything we suggest.

This led to us developing the first interactive TV advert in the country, in which you had to choose outcomes that could lead to homelessness.

We also help it free of charge with its website and produce its press and poster campaigns.

We have a clothes collection every month - lots of our employees donate suits that are useful for job interviews.

We also run a mentoring scheme, which I'm involved with - we hold one-to-one job coaching sessions. We often have people from the shelter over on work placement. So far we've offered jobs to two: one in IT and one in the post room.

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