Tag Archives: Charity

Meet our co-sponsors – Tom Blencowe and Imogen Heath of RLUK

Meet our co-sponsors – Tom Blencowe and Imogen Heath of RLUK

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

“Diversify or die” is the business mantra of Tom Blencowe, CEO of RLUK group. He believes in today’s fast-moving world of retail, being quick off the block with new ideas and having a flexible approach is the key to long term success. Labels Shopping is certainly in a challenging marketplace, with the toll of failures in big name, big brand high street retailers happening at almost frightening speed. “It’s become almost impossible to predict future retail trends,” says Tom, “which is proving difficult even for even the bigger retailers to do; we’ve always focused on moving forwards rather than staying still, reacting quickly and flexibly to changing market and local conditions”.

I met up with Tom and Imogen Heath, Commercial Director, in their impressive Labels shopping outlet at Ross on Wye. The business has changed over the years, outgrowing the original country store, developing new business models and adding new attractions to make Labels Shopping a better experience. The shopping centre has a enticing mix of outlets – over 50 brands of clothing, plus accessories,shoes, luggage, home furnishings, furniture and giftware.

It’s also a real foodies’s paradise, with a tempting array of brands and lots of local produce in the Food Emporium, Farm shop and local butcher. Fruit, vegetables and free-range eggs for the shop comes from their own local farm, as well as meat from the small numbers of sheep, Tamworth and Welsh pigs. Eating out options onsite include the café, with lovely views of the Herefordshire countryside and the Seafood bar.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Inside the Gateway cinema at Labels

The latest addition is the Gateway – a 50-seater cinema with comfy Anemone red leather sofas, where you can watch a movie, a streamlined live opera, pop concert or ballet or enjoy live theatre. You can tuck into a meal before a matinee or evening performance or just relax in the bar beforehand. The business plans on having more comedy nights and foreign films into the future, building up new audiences. Much of the upper ground floor of the building is being developed to be an entertainment and leisure space and there are exciting plans in the pipeline to add more health and wellness options – a hair and beauty salon, a health foods store plus physio and therapy space.

Tom has seen many changes to the site over the years, from the original purchase of the site and developing a purpose-built building to developing the office block. Originally the offices were going to be run as a hot desking/flexible working option, but a couple of organisations snapped up the site for new offices, so the plan was changed, and this now provides the group with rental income. It’s this ability of the management team to adapt and offer something new and exciting at the park that has underpinned their success.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | The Gateway cinema bar at Labels

Imogen explained how the shopping business had changed in the 5 years she’s been working there. “We moved from a concession model to a tenant basis in 2015 on the lower ground floor, which gives a more stable income and have retained some space for our own brands, as with, for example, the Food Emporium.” The cinema has a superb state of the art sound system and Tom designed the space.  “The popularity of the opera and ballet performances are due to the quality of the sound” she says “and the events sell out really fast, so you have to be quick to get tickets”.  She’s also a believer is surrounding herself with a strong team and the group employ an expert from the film industry to plan the diverse events calendar. The July and August programme includes magic, puppet theatre, vintage cars, craft workshops, or you could try the story time and illustration workshop with children’s’ author Hannah Shaw.

Tom and Mark Smith go back many years and they have developed a strong partnership based on mutual respect. “I really enjoy working with Mark” says Tom, “as we can have a chat about life as well as talk business”. We’re pleased to be supporting Mark in raising money for Mental Health, which Tom knows from experience of working as an architect in hospitals, has been a poor relation to physical illness in the health service for years. On 2nd October Labels are generously hosting a Mental Health– Practical Help For You & Your Business seminar in the cinema. The business is also involved in fundraising for a local charity as Teenagers In Crisis are their chosen charity of for 2019. On 9th October, they will be hosting two fashion shows, with some of the teenagers who have used the helpline becoming their models for the day.

Naturally, I couldn’t leave Labels without indulging in a little retail therapy involving clothes and puddings and I’m sure every visitor will feel the same about this treasure trove on our doorsteps!

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Labels

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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Meet our co-sponsor, Ian Smith, Chair at Bishop Fleming

Meet our co-sponsor, Ian Smith, Chair at Bishop Fleming

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Today I met a remarkable man. Ian Smith is chair of Bishop Fleming, the accountancy firm that has made The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 companies to work for‘  list for the last 4 years, as well as a string of regional awards for excellence in professional services and Investors in People.  For Ian, the success of the firm is down to developing the right people; experts in their field who are interested in developing their clients’ businesses. Ian’s ‘little black book ‘is legendary and he prides himself in making introductions from his personal network.

Ian’s responsibilities on the Board include diversity and inclusion. As a carer himself, he understands that people often have responsibilities outside the workplace, and they may take steps to keep them hidden from colleagues. He calls this their ‘invisible baggage’ and he knows that these people are under unrelenting pressure. He is someone who definitely leads by example.  Ian takes active steps to look after his mental and physical health so that he can balance his demanding role at the company he loves with the caring role in his personal life. He talked to me about the challenges people face when they first encounter something they cannot simply ‘fix’.  Ian has found his own methods that really work in practice so that this isn’t a barrier in his professional life.

Despite his busy schedule, he’s generous with his time too, and he’ll be one of the guest speakers at the “Mark’s Mental Health Marathon” seminars.  Bishop Fleming staff are actively involved in charities – this year they are aiming to raise £100K to mark their centenary year and recently 120 of their staff took part in the Bath half marathon. Others are undertaking the 3 Peaks Challenge or taking part in a 4-day walking challenge to walk 100 miles.

So what are the secrets to his success?

  1. Self-discipline and sticking to a routine

Ian is firm believer that in order to look after your team, you first need to look after yourself. For the last 13 years Ian has had a weekly session with his fitness trainer. Recently he has seen a Shiatsu practitioner twice as month as well. Shiatsu is a holistic approach to fitness and isn’t just physical fitness but includes monitoring and managing diet, sleep patterns, massage and manipulation. The aim is to release endorphins which promote an overall feeling of well-being. Ian is a very focussed, driven person himself and he’s learned that the value of sitting under a tree doing nothing or walking the dog can be as beneficial as going on a weekend away to play golf (which often gets competitive).

 

  1. Understand both your own and your team members resilience to stress.

Ian explained the ‘Stress Bucket’ concept to me. Everybody has a different ability to deal with stress, so whilst some people seem to thrive on it and perform very well under constant pressure (they have a skip sized ‘bucket’), others find that they need to keep stress at a much lower level to function well ( imagine these people with a thimble). At any time, life is adding stress into the top of the bucket, so the level is always increasing, whilst we can empty it through our own personal tap at the base. Everyone has a different relieving ‘tap’ which could be getting better sleep, quiet reading, socialising with friends, stroking a pet etc.

By getting to know your team better, and what causes and relieves stress levels, you can direct them at work to make the most of their talents and interests and avoid situations or job roles that are unsuitable for them. At Bishop Fleming, managers and staff are encouraged to have these conversations so that the root causes of stress are identified and can be dealt with, for example by finding the right person to talk to. Without this support network at work, people will often take a medical approach, when sleeping tablets or anti-depressants may be offered, which doesn’t address the issues causing stress in the first place. Both approaches have their place, but a good support network can mean medicines may not be needed.

 

  1. Adopt the Radical Candour methodology

This is a concept developed by Kim Scott, who has worked with Google, Apple, Twitter and is a New York Times bestselling author. Her new approach, which has been adopted at Bishop Fleming, helps managers have honest feedback discussions with their team, and, as a result, achieve a happier and more productive workplace.

 

Mark Smith is very grateful for the support offered by Ian Smith, both as a corporate sponsor and speaker at the seminars. You can find out more details about the seminars here .

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Meet our co-sponsor, Gary Jones, MD of Glevum

Meet our co-sponsor, Gary Jones, MD of Glevum

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people. The first of which is Gary Jones…

Gary Jones has a simple business philosophy: whenever he bumps into a customer before or during his beloved Gloucester Rugby – he wants to be assured that they are happy. After 35 very successful years at the helm, customers remain the most important people to him and repeat business or personal recommendation account for 75% of their retail sales. Today Glevum also supplies the top UK housebuilders including Taylor Wimpey, Barratts/David Wilson and Persimmon with hundreds of windows every week, on building sites from Cornwall to Kent, yet high quality products and exceptional service standards are not compromised. From day one of their employment, his teams understand that they should treat customers’ property with the care they would take if it were their own.

Gary has a personal experience of dealing with mental health as Mike Nicholls, his uncle and childhood sporting hero suffered from dementia later in his life. Mike was the first team captain to hold aloft the John Player Charity Shield and Gary has fond memories of being taken by Mike to see Gloucester play as a child. He still has this passion for Gloucester rugby club today. When Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank requested financial support for Mental Health UK, Gary was the first one to reach into his pocket.

Recommended to Gary when their previous banking advisor changed role, Mark has been working alongside Glevum for many years, always supporting their expansion plans by fighting their corner and enabling finance to be made available as the business has grown. Supporting Mark with this project will mean that Mental Health issues are treated as more of a priority here in the Midlands.

Gary started Glevum from his dads’ garage after serving an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering as a field service engineer, which is where he developed his eye for measurement. His first workshop was funded by selling his Ford Cortina and cashflow was a challenge. “Approaching the bank manager and being asked for a cashflow forecast seemed to me like so much mumbo jumbo back then” recalls Gary “but fear of failure was always a great motivator”. As the business grew, Gary came to rely on recruiting and keeping great people in his team, and the business has always been industry leaders in the use of new technology and innovative processes. Gary has a ‘touch of the geek’ about him, and has always enjoyed new IT.  High points in his career was winning the Gloucestershire Business of the Year in 2018 and the UK’s top conservatory builder in 2000, although he also fondly remembers the teasing he received from his mates when, at 39, he won Gloucestershire ‘Young Businessperson of the Year’.

Mark's Mental Health Marathon | Gary Jones of Glevum with HRH The Duke of Gloucester at Glevum Conservatory Village

He’s definitely not a typical MD of a multi-million turnover business! Every customer is invited to complete a 30-question survey about their experience of Glevum and on the odd occasion that any question scores less than half marks, Gary will personally pick up the phone to them so that there is ‘no muddying the water’ with middle managers involved. At the same time the business is developing innovative new apps that are used by building site managers to order their products in the most efficient and traceable manner. Orders are made at the right time in their house build process, scheduled in for manufacture, tracked through production, delivery vehicle location and, finally, invoicing. The new system saves his customers time, hassle and money.

For Gary, business is not all about money making, it’s also about giving back. Glevum are currently supporting a new community interest company (CIC) which will provide charities with affordable and state of the art office facilities in Morroway House in central Gloucester. This new hub has meeting rooms, hot desk spaces and a series of fortnightly seminars specifically for the third sector is already being planned.

Whatever the future holds, here is a leader who loves to embrace new challenges!

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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Mental Health Seminars – practical help for you and your business

Mental Health Seminars – practical help for you and your business

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon to raise £25,000 for Mental Health UK. Come and join us at the Mental Health Seminars!

With everyone becoming more aware of the prevalence of mental health issues amongst our family, friends and colleagues, it’s important that we all understand how to provide practical support for people who are at risk of poor mental health or diagnosed with a mental health condition.

These are free events are for business owners, with a suggested donation of £25 or more to Mental Health UK, via this Just Giving site, to support Lloyds Bank’s national charity, Mental Health UK.

In these seminars you’ll learn more about how you can improve your ability to manage mental health issues in your business, understand your legal obligations and appreciate the implications of getting this important issue wrong. Our final speaker will talk about their practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
We look forward to welcoming you to RGS Worcester in the morning or to Hereford Cathedral School in the afternoon.

Date: Tuesday, 16th July
Time: 8am to 11am
Venue: The Godfrey Brown Theatre, Royal Grammar School, Upper Tything,Worcester, Worcestershire. WR1 1HP

To book your place on the Worcester seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Worcester 16th July seminar in the email.

Agenda
8.00-8.30 – Light refreshments.
8.30 – Opening remarks and introduction.
8.45 – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
9.30 – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
10.15 – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
11.00-11.30 – Close and light refreshments.

Date: Tuesday, 16th July
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Venue: The Powell Theatre, Zimmerman Building, Hereford Cathedral School, Church Street Hereford, HR1 2NG

Agenda
2.00-2.30 – Light refreshments.
2.30 – Opening remarks and introduction.
2.45 – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
3.30 – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
4.15 – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
5.00-5.30 – Close and light refreshments.

To book your place on the Hereford seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Hereford 16th July seminar in the email.

We look forward to seeing you there!

To read more about why Mark is fundraising for Mental Health UK please click here.

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Welcome to Mark’s Mental Health Marathon and thanks for reading.

Welcome to Mark’s Mental Health Marathon and thanks for reading.

As many of you will already know, 2018 was a difficult year…a year in which I was told I might have three-years to live, followed by extensive diagnostic health checks, regular specialist consultant’s visits, cancelled operations, learning how to cope with insulin dependence and eventually a lung biopsy to confirmation a long-term inflammatory lung disease requiring ongoing steroids and, this year, powerful immuno-suppressants that are also used in chemotherapy treatments.  My mother’s untimely death hardly helped the year along!

This year I’ve been offered an opportunity of a lifetime – so, I’m undertaking a sponsored 80km trek to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to raise money for Mental Health UK, Lloyds Bank’s chosen charity. So, why would an insulin-dependent diabetic with only two thirds lung capacity want to take on such a physical challenge in oppressive heat of 35°c and saturating humidity of over 80%?

It’s all about saying ‘thank you’ to the community that supported me and kept me going through the ups and downs of 2018.  Of course, the support from friends and family is invaluable at times like these but I had more, much more. I experienced surprising and very welcome support from my networks of clients, colleagues, professional partners. People who would regularly pick up the phone or drop me an email and simply ask…‘I was just thinking of you, how are you doing?’…and still do!

So the challenge I’ve set myself is to pay-back to everyone who provided that invaluable support network. It’s my way of saying thank you to a fantastic business community.

I want to make a difference in 3 ways:-

  • I’d like the business community to be increasingly capable of supporting people experiencing mental health issues; by being more effective and efficient at spotting issues and hopefully preventing them from developing into something more serious.
  • I’d like everyone in my business community to be able to say ” Yes, I’ve got something out of this for myself, for my team and for my business”.
  • Raising £25,000 for a truly worthwhile and practical charity – Mental Health UK so that they can support many others going through difficult times with mental health issues.

So I invite you all to get involved with me. This might be by attending one of my fundraising events, being one of my corporate sponsors or by coming along to one of our mental health awareness seminars and hearing from expert speakers on mental health issues.

Look out for regular updates on these events as the year progresses, culminating in my trek to Cambodia as part of a team of 70 Lloyds bank staff during the rainy reason in October!

So, can I encourage you, please, to give generously to a cause that at some stage in our lives we all may need to rely on to support our family, friends, or even ourselves.

Whatever amount you might choose to donate, you have my heartfelt appreciation.  Donations can be made most easily through my Just Giving page or, if preferred, by cheque made payable to ‘LBG Charity of the Year’.

Please be kind enough to ‘like’ and ‘share’ my blog posts with your social media connections so we can spread the word. With your support, together, we can make a difference to our community.

With my personal thanks,

Mark

With thanks to Mark Smith our guest blogger this week. Aardvark Marketing Consultants are supporting Mark in his fundraising efforts.

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Aardvark Marketing | Austerity, challenge, change

Austerity, challenge, change

Austerity, challenge, change

The voluntary and community sector is adapting to austerity but huge challenges remain for many organisations.
On Friday I listened to speakers at the Shropshire VCS (Voluntary & Community Sector) Assembly and was particularly interested in the research work Rob Macmillan of the University of Birmingham’s Third Sector Research Centre and in the presentation from Dan Corry, an economist, former advisor to Gordon Brown and now a director of the IPPR think tank. Both speakers were interested in and study the work of charities, community interest companies and the voluntary sector as they deal with large-scale change between society and state.
Both were cautiously optimistic about the future role the charities and voluntary services. However the sector is facing huge challenges, some of which I’ll outline here.

Political landscape
Many public services are affected by the localism and decentralisation agenda, for example the new city regions in Manchester and Birmingham
Changes to policy in several key areas that affect the sector, including welfare, housing, health, criminal justice and the education system
Changes to the national living wage, to pension provision and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, which have had restructuring and redundancy implications for organisations.
Economic landscape
A compelling need to find sustainable income sources, which may mean restructuring, repositioning and re-branding their organisations as well as new competitive challenges. In some organisations this poses fundamental questions about losing their focus
Grant funding for the sector, and local and national government grants, are being reduced. Those grants that  are available are generally for bigger contracts, often with a payment by results in arrears formats, which presents cash flow problems for organisations in the sector. Grant funding used to account 50% of charitable income, now it is around 19%.
Charities have switched to charging for services, now earning twice as much as they did in the year 2000.
Many charities are running by using up their reserve funds to ‘buy them time’ to adjust and adapt.
Fundraising methods are being adapted or changed, for example by reducing or eliminating telephone requests, direct mail requests and street fundraisers and relying more on advertising for donations.(For more detail, read my previous blog post Stuck between a rock and a hard place).
Small and medium sized charities are being squeezed the hardest, with the larger organisations being more successful in the more competitive environment

change-in-income-by-size-of-organisation

voluntary-sector-income-type
Social landscape
Demographic changes, including an ageing population and changes in the ethnic mix.
Attitudinal changes in the population, including our attitudes to the poor, to the welfare state, to disability and to migrants.
Technological landscape
Increasing use of the Internet, smartphones and tablets and the availability of data.
A need to develop new ways of working that can deliver more services in a more efficient manner.
All these challenges mean the sector is changing rapidly. It’s changing the nature and scope of the services it delivers and often the way those services are being delivered. The organisations themselves are undergoing mergers, collaborating with new partners or sometimes changing their business model into a ’profits for purpose’ model. The political view is that “Organisations need to be resilient, entrepreneurial and agile. Many will need to adapt and develop their business models in order to continue to deliver and grow their services, developing new skills and capability along the way” (Cabinet Office, 2014, p.6). These organisations are still, by and large, trusted by the public to be the honest brokers between public sector and private enterprise but the transition is painful and the public need to be made more aware of the chaotic environment in which they have to market themselves.
Gill
Aardvark Marketing have worked with many charities, helping them adapt, survive and thrive in a shifting landscape. For a confidential chat about how we could support your organisation, please contact us.

Graphs, source: https://data.ncvo.org.uk/ 

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