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British Land: Collaboration and Community Equals Power

Category: Global Communities, collaboration, British land, ethnic communities, local communities, Future Communities, collaborative culture, working for British Land

Corporate Social Responsibility

Businesses on our campuses came together to support the tireless work of London’s small charities during the pandemic, demonstrating the power of collaboration. As Covid kept us physically apart, the shared purpose of supporting local communities united our occupiers, and provided them with a reason to remain engaged with their place of work and the wellbeing of those around it.

 

British Land launched its first campus community fund several years ago, with the aim of providing funding for charities and partnerships that have a positive impact on the communities surrounding our places.

The past couple of years have proved increasingly difficult for some of our partners; over 90% of UK charities experienced negative impacts from Covid – notably as demand for services surged, income plummeted as fundraising suddenly came to a halt.1

Social sustainability is something both British Land and our customers care passionately about. We have a team of talented individuals within our own business and occupier base, who campaign for positive change, and we have ongoing community initiatives that contribute to such progress materialising. Yet, the challenges facing some of the communities around our places are bigger than any of us can solve alone.

As Covid hit, we considered how we could most effectively pull together to achieve the greatest positive impact through our community funds. We had already been using this charitable initiative with customers at Regent’s Place – together agreeing priorities, pledging funds and awarding grants. This proved highly successful: over 1,400 local people benefited in the first year alone. We had always intended to roll out the model across all our campuses. Covid amplified the need for this, while at the same time making it harder

Our customers rose to the challenge. Within a year of initial discussions, 15 businesses across Broadgate and Paddington Central had pledged £150,000 to new community funds, on top of the £200,000 already donated at Regent’s Place in recent years. Facilitating customer and community relationships has proved one of our most powerful contributions; these three-way relationships are invaluable and have led to lasting opportunities, including customers sharing their experiences, workspace and capabilities locally, supporting social mobility. Our customers tell us this helps their employees feel more connected to where they work, that it is more than just a place of work.

Customers from diverse sectors – including finance, media, tech, legal and pharma – have told us how much they value being part of the community funds. dentsu international welcomed how the Regent’s Place Community Fund enables them to work alongside other businesses to have a greater impact. Facebook described how it supports their business goals and benefits employees, bringing the team closer to their local community. New members at Broadgate and Paddington Central are inspired by upcoming projects, which range from art therapy for older local residents to mentoring young refugees.

Agreeing priority themes for these new funds was an important first step to take together. We commissioned research into local needs, which fed into constructive discussions about areas where we could make the biggest difference, such as wellbeing for young people and the elderly, employability and social cohesion.

In awarding grants, we prioritise smaller charities, who are often the first responders to London’s complex problems but attract far less funding that national names. Charities with an income under £1m make up 96% of all charities but only receive 18% of income2. Working with local partners also means that community organisations – who have the deepest insights into local issues – guide where funding and efforts should be concentrated. The London Community Foundation supports the whole process.

Community funds are a natural extension of our customer networks, where we connect people around shared interests such as mental health, diversity and inclusion. The funds allow us a chance to proudly shine a light on community groups and our occupiers doing incredible work behind the scenes. They tangibly demonstrate the benefits of connecting with others as part of life on a British Land campus.

Feedback from Community Fund members

Luke Gregory of Facebook, Regent’s Place customer:

"The Fund supports our business goals and benefits our employees, too. Through the Fund, we've got closer to our local community here in London. There are so many opportunities for our team to get involved… It feels good to have an impact day-to-day, face-to-face with people in our neighbourhood.”

Scott Sallée of dentsu international, Regent’s Place customer:

"By bringing together different occupiers of Regent’s Place, British Land is enabling us to maximise and amplify our impact by helping us collaborate and come together to solve things that matter to us as a community. It’s really enjoyable for our teams to have these volunteering opportunities and to come together in great networks.”

Jason Leong of CC Land, Paddington Central stakeholder:

"It was a natural decision to join the Paddington Central Community Fund as it adds value to everything we do. Occupiers at our buildings benefit from more dynamic and vibrant surroundings. The local community benefit from increased opportunity for life and work. Paddington Central Community Fund has allowed us an opportunity to be part of something bigger, leaving a long lasting impact on the local area outside of our main business activities and for that we are grateful.”

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