BT North East Regional Board help Building Futures East

The BT North East Regional Board has put their managerial skills to good use volunteering for a local charitable organisation, Building Futures East.

Rather than take to traditional volunteering projects such as small construction projects, clean up’s and painting, the board felt they could make better use by sharing their combined and extensive management skills to give the charity a long term and tangible benefit.

As a board of senior BT people, the team have a vast and varied experience of business and have used this experience to give the charity access to a type of resource often difficult to obtain.

Working through Common Purpose, an organisation running leadership courses which mix people from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, they identified one of two charities who felt they would most benefit from BT’s senior management skills.

Building Futures East (BFE) is a charity dedicated to improving people’s life opportunities regardless of background. The organisation concentrates its activity in the areas of social enterprise and vocational skills training as a vehicle for community regeneration.  They offer a range of employment, vocational and personal development training and work experience opportunities to individuals from the disadvantaged communities in Newcastle and indeed from across the sub-region. These opportunities are delivered from their base on Walker Riverside in the East End of Newcastle.

Over the last six months, Chris Sayers, BT Regional Director for the North East, along with board members Margie Burdis, Derek Richardson and Adrienne McNaboe have volunteered “free” consultancy time to assist the charity and identify where they could help.    The team recently met with Anthony Woods-Waters, Chief Executive and Helen Tweddle, Head of Operations to give them feedback on where they could help and what they could do. Areas which were highlighted were marketing and communications, project management skills, procurement and also a number of free resources which BFE could tap into that BT already offer through their volunteering programmes, such as Work Inspiration.

Chris said ‘This has been a great experience and everyone involved agrees that this has been an extremely worthwhile exercise. Taking our experience of large corporate business and seeing how this can be applied to a charity has been very interesting, and the resulting discussions have identified a number of new avenues for the BFE team to explore that should help them to grow and deliver even more value back to the local community. BFE is a really inspiring place, and it’s been a pleasure working with them and I look forward to continued participation to ensure that some of the ideas generated come to fruition. We are also registering BFE on the BT Volunteers website so that more local BT volunteers can get involved’

Anthony Woods-Waters, Chief Executive, said ‘At Building Futures East we recognise what an opportunity and a privilege it is to benefit from the committed support and personal investment made by the members of the North East Regional Board.

All of the ideas generated by the BT Team will contribute to improvements in the way we plan or deliver our business across our charitable and social entrepreneurial work streams.

Immediate opportunities such as access to the “World of Work” Programme will inspire our students to greater possibilities while support by the BT Team for the development of a more comprehensive Stakeholder Engagement Strategy will provide a building block for longer term organisational sustainability.

Rarely does an organisation like ours have access to such talented individuals all willingly giving of their time and expertise and focussed upon supporting us in achieving our goal of improving people’s lives and creating better places.’

Having completed this first phase of working together, the BT Regional team are keen to build on the relationship that they have developed with BFE and continue their involvement by helping the charity to put the ideas that have been generated into practice. BT as a company, and the NE regional board members as individuals, have a very strong sense of Corporate Social Responsibility, and it is hoped that this innovative approach will be replicated across the UK.

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