Community Resilience

COVID-19: Business Response Network – meeting community need and changing lives

Over 400 (404) connections made between business offers of support and schools, charities and local community groups across the UK (30 in Northern Ireland), just 5 weeks after launch

  • Over 400 (404) connections made between business offers of support and schools, charities and local community groups across the UK (30 in Northern Ireland), just 5 weeks after launch
  • London Stock Exchange Group joins AXA as a founding partner, providing financial support to the rapidly growing Business in the Community initiative

At just five weeks old, the Business Response Network in Northern Ireland, in partnership with the UK campaign, has already made more 400 connections (30 in Northern Ireland) between local community groups, schools and charities and UK businesses that have been able to meet their urgent needs during the COVID-19.

The Business Response Network was launched in April by Business in the Community – the responsible business charity. It is garnering support from its 230+ member companies in Northern Ireland, and linking with its 750+ across the UK. Working together, the two parts of the network have been boosted by investments from AXA and the London Stock Exchange Group, which will help to rapidly scale up the response network.

Business in the Community’s response to COVID-19 is twofold. Firstly, the Business Response Network focuses on matching practical support with community need. Secondly, through its newly launched Skills Match platform, supported by the Department for Communities and operating in partnership with NICVA, Business in the Community is actively working to match the expertise and knowledge of business people with projects tackling social challenges during COVID-19 and beyond.

Examples of matches made during April and May (UK and Northern Ireland):

  • Costa Coffee donated 55,000 cakes to small community organisations across seven UK regions
  • PwC donated 40 volunteers to man the helplines of Advice NI and Age NI
  • Iceland donated 40 large freezers to foodbanks and is sending £50 in vouchers to each food bank to start filling the freezers
  • Deloitte donated essential stationery to schools and communities across the UK
  • Manchester Airport introduced Business in the Community to an airline catering company who have donated over 100,000 meals, many delivered by airport staff volunteers, to communities in Greater Manchester.

Community organisations in need of help and businesses wanting to offer their support can visit www.bitcni.org.uk/brn

One of the most urgent areas of need is the provision of technology to support schools. All of the current requests can be found at https://www.bitcni.org.uk/business-response-network-current-asks/

To find out more about Skills Match, please visit www.skillsmatchni.com.

Kieran Harding, managing director of Business in the Community Northern Ireland, said:

“The contribution that businesses are making to support our most vulnerable communities has never been needed more than it is right now. Their offers of support through our Business Response Network are getting right to the heart of our schools and communities.

“The support provided by both AXA and the London Stock Exchange Group as founding partners of the network across the UK will help us build on the success achieved to date and do even more.

“We know what local communities need as they battle the impact of COVID-19 on their towns and cities and we’re calling on businesses who want to offer support to contact us to make sure their support gets to the right place at the right time.”

David Schwimmer, CEO, London Stock Exchange Group:

“We are pleased to join the National Business Response Network as a founding partner. The work of Business in the Community is closely aligned with our Group’s longstanding commitment to small businesses. We believe that supporting the recovery and growth of these businesses is critical to the UK economy. We look forward to working with BITC to provide support to communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Lucinda Charles-Jones, AXA UK & Ireland HR director & Business in the Community Board of Trustees director:

“We are thrilled and honoured by the incredible amount of support the National Business Response Network has received in its first five weeks. Food, technology and community support are some of the most basic needs for local communities who are navigating their way through this pandemic, so we would encourage any company who thinks they can help to get involved.”