GREATER MANCHESTER BUSINESS AWARDS WINNER – BUSINESS OF THE YEAR (over 20 employees)
The Together Trust based in Cheadle, South Manchester were well deserved winners of the Business of the Year Award (over 20 employees). Business Connect spoke with Head of Fundraising Lucy Sawdon-Molloy, to speak about what the award meant to the charity:
Congratulations on winning Business of the Year (over 20 employees). What do you think were the reasons the Together Trust were voted as winner?
“This has been an unusual and exceptional year with the pandemic influencing and creating many challenges. Despite this, the charity has continued to provide vital service delivery to some of the area’s most vulnerable children and families. We redeployed staff wherever possible to ensure that we minimised the risk of service closure. This involved continually reviewing risk assessments to create safe environments for all our staff, volunteers and the people we support. Virtual home schooling was introduced for many of our students.
“Within our Manchester residential and supported living homes, a number of our staff temporarily moved in to services to provide continual structure and stability to the individuals we support even though it meant being apart from their own families. Our services made in excess of 3,000 welfare calls over the lockdown periods to families and carers who were unable to go out or access services in the usual way. This contact was vital for some individuals whose routines and sense of predictability was lost due to the impact of the pandemic.
“We also offered a range of support to help those with high and complex needs to maintain contact with their friends, including virtual get-togethers and a range of group activities through Zoom and Teams. Vital interactions with family and friends were also created, when safe to do so, through socially distanced visiting pods in the gardens of some of our services. We designed and provided free online resources to help disabled people and their families during the pandemic. Including census support materials and accessible vaccination instructions for people with autism which achieved over 2,300 engagements on social media.”
How can the corporate sector support the Together Trust?
“It’s very important to us as an organisation to provide enriching experiences for the people we support, and we find working in partnership with businesses a great way to deliver this. Our schools and college are consistently in need of work experience placements for post sixteen students, and businesses could support this by offering a young person work experience for just one hour per week. Students are fully supported by trained staff to fulfil their work experience, are fully risk assessed, and can provide an invaluable contribution to the workplace of the businesses supporting us.
“Key areas of interest for current students include catering and hospitality, construction, IT and retail, however work experience across any industry can be considered. If inviting a student into a business isn’t something that would be practical, there are options to be invited as a guest speaker, talking about an aspects of a particular business, sector or career path. These can be arranged face to face or virtually, and provide students with crucial insight into the world of work.”
What other ways can a business support the work you do?
“Many businesses actively encourage and promote their staff to spend volunteering days supporting our services or fundraising efforts. This is a fantastic way to engage a workforce in a positive activity, encouraging teambuilding whilst at the same time helping us offer support to children and adults with disabilities, autism and mental health differences.
“Could a business provide staff for the day to help with a supermarket collection? Or to help at an event? We can provide fantastic opportunities for staff to build ties as a team while helping to support vulnerable young people in their local area. All of the above are fantastic ways for any business to fulfil their Corporate Social Responsibility in their own community while boosting staff morale and improving staff retention. They will be fully supported by Together Trust staff to maximise the positive impact working with a charity can have on their business.”
What are your plans for the future?
“For 150 years, we have seen potential where others see limitations. We will never stop believing in a better and more inclusive future for people with complex health needs, disabilities, autism and care experienced people. The issues faced by the people we support are universal, and the only way for our communities to flourish is to enable everyone to thrive. That’s why we’re generous with our time and resources, sharing insight with local authorities, like-minded organisations and international social care communities.”