For the first time ever, environmental Charity, Groundwork, which operates 21 Trusts across the UK, has been named nationally as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) charity of the year.
Staff from Yorkshire’s biggest professional services firm chose to up sticks from their desks in a bid to work with some of Groundwork Leeds beneficiaries. The day involved environmental improvements in deprived neighbourhoods as well as enhancing the skills and employment prospects of the local people involved. Lara Dawber a PwC manager who has worked for the organisation for the last eight years, states; “The day was very well organised and had been well thought through. It gave us a great opportunity to work with people from different departments within our office in a relaxed environment where teamwork was key. We were able to make a tangible difference to the Leeds environment and it is something we would love to do again in the future.”
[private]Groundwork was established over three decades ago in 1986 with an aim to bring together communities, businesses and government in a joint effort to improve the quality of life and promote sustainable development in places that had become run-down and neglected.
Adrian Curtis, Executive Director of Groundwork Leeds, comments; “We’re delighted to be recognised across the UK by PwC for our community initiatives. We run hundreds of schemes for young people each year and to be supported and backed by such a world-renowned firm is invaluable. Our core value is to bring out the best in young people by helping them to improve their local area and build stronger communities by improving green spaces. We firmly believe in giving everyone the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their prospects regardless of their starting point. One of our objectives for this year is to ensure 60% of the young people we work with progress to employment or further learning and with the help of PwC we’re confident we’ll achieve this.”
Leeds Groundwork Trust started life with just three employees until it purchased the old Wesley Street Mill in Morley in 1987. Following the restoration of the mill and converting the space to offices and training rooms, today there is a committed team of 50 staff and 10 volunteers who are dedicated to championing local environmental regeneration projects and working with people to improve their quality of life whether they be 16 or 66. From regenerating a neglected green space to tackling anti-social behaviour, Groundwork has been running a variety of programmes in partnership with Leeds City Council, housing associations, local businesses and schools for the last 25 years.
Groundwork Leeds has an annual turnover of £2 million and plans to inject £500,000 by 2015 into the local economy by delivering bespoke community projects. Over the years the portfolio of projects has expanded to include outdoor education, energy and resource efficiency advice for residents and businesses, food growing, youth work, climate change awareness and volunteering. Last year Groundwork Leeds delivered 185 projects, involving 18,309 young people days, 15,535 adult days and 82 schools and community organisations. They planted 1,344 trees and helped improve or maintain almost 350,000 square metres of land.
The organisation has ambitious plans to lift 600 families out of fuel poverty by saving 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions. They are working closely with businesses to reduce their environmental impact and by the end of 2015 they hope to have saved each organisation between £5,000 and £20,000 per annum.
Adrian concludes; “Business partnerships and donations allow and support us to run such a range of diverse programmes which have notable impacts on the environment and the young people we work with. We appreciate that CSR agendas need to deliver tangible results for organisations and we work together with our partners to make sure we bring our knowledge and expertise of local communities and businesses together. Through research at Sheffield Hallam University, we have found that for every £1 spent on a Groundwork project, we generate £3 of physical and human benefits.”
Ian Morrison, PwC’s Yorkshire & North East regional leader said:
“We have worked with Groundwork for the last eight years and over this time we have built up a great relationship with the charity but also the local communities we spend time with. Through the practical work we have been able to see the difference spending a few hours can make to our local Leeds environment. And with Groundwork now our nominated charity for the year, we will be able to spend more time supporting them in the fantastic work they do.” [/private]