SWEET CHARITY / AUTUMN/WINTER 2016 / ISSUE FIVE / NOTES MAGAZINE
We have established formal links with a number of schools providing bursaries, workshops, awards and support for extra curricular activities.Architects and designers are often accused of being more interested in things than people. ONE17 decided to change that...
If you are expecting an article on the 1969 film version of the Bob Fosse musical, prepare to be disappointed. This piece is about ONE17’s Charitable Trust, set up in late 2010 to offer support to what are, in the main, people and organisations local to our base in West Yorkshire.
The term charity has a number of meanings: it can mean an organisation set up to provide help for those in need and it can mean the help itself – very often in the form of money. One essential characteristic of charity is of course that it is voluntary: it comes from a personal desire to help. Who or what an individual or organisation chooses to help – and why – is a field of study all its own. Which brings us to a further definition of charity: the exercise of kindness and tolerance in judging others.
You may feel that using the title of a musical to head this piece is a tenuous link, but when, bearing in mind this last definition, you learn that the full title of the show is “Sweet Charity: The Adventures of a Girl Who Wanted to Be Loved” and that the original poster proclaimed “Love is what it’s all about!” then perhaps it’s not so tenuous.
Sometimes those most in need of help also need a good deal of kindness and tolerance in how we judge them. For a charity such as ours, with limited resources and time, making contact with the right people, often intermediaries who really know the local scene, is critically important. People, in all their bewildering complexity and magnificent variety, are at the root of every charitable trust; ours is no different.
Indeed it is what the Trust has taught us about our local community and the links we have been able to establish, as much as the help we have been able to give, that has been its greatest success.
Caroline Lee, Trustee and Head of Community Liaison for the office, who handles much of the face-to-face work of the Trust, emphasised this point:
“As a successful business we were keen to give back to our local community but wanted this to be about more than just writing a cheque. We set up the ONE17 Design Charitable Trust to help us to become more aware of our wider community, to play an active role in providing relief to those in need and to help inspire and enthuse young people. To this end, we don’t just give financial support we also offer in-kind business support and have established formal links with a number of schools providing bursaries, workshops, awards and support for extra curricular activities.”
The Trust doesn’t have an application form. Instead, Caroline goes to meet the people involved, establish what is needed and how we might help.
“This process not only improves our awareness, but it also helps us to foster long-term relationships. We particularly like to support keen and enthusiastic volunteers within our community and ensure that their energies can be spent with the people they are supporting rather than on filling in forms. We have also found that many smaller groups lack the necessary time or expertise to bid for funding from larger charities and it is this gap that we trying, and succeeding, to bridge in our local community.”
Regular donations are made to the Trust from ONE17 companies - 95% of the Trust’s income - and donations from our clients. Traditionally for architects the first appointment with a new client seeking professional advice was free of charge. We now ask for a donation to the Charitable Trust and have been delighted at the positive response we have had from most potential clients to this initiative.
Caroline fleshed out the framework with further detail:
“Since the launch of the ONE17 Design Charitable Trust in late 2010 we have certainly had our eyes opened to things that are happening in our area. We have given in excess of £140,000 to support a wide range of local charities and projects for young people. We have also become formal partners at three of our local high schools and are actively involved in supporting projects in these schools and their feeder primary schools. We’ve also given in-kind business support to smaller charities and community groups, and designed numerous posters, banners and flyers free of charge to help with their marketing. We have met some amazing local people and it is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to support their work.
The Trust doesn’t have an application form. Instead, Caroline goes to meet the people involved, establish what is needed and how we might help.Many of our staff members complete challenges to raise funds for charities of their choice and we are always happy to match their sponsorship. And it’s great that some staff volunteer time to help groups that we have become involved with through the Trust. We have also been able to help a number of individual families through difficult times.”
Not surprisingly it is the individual and personal stories that mean the Trust is far from a dry administrative offshoot to the business. The things that we support are many and varied, but a couple of stories help to illustrate the variety of work with which the Trust gets involved.
The first involves a Cooking Club and Kids' Lunch Café set up by a very special person within the Youth Club of a local housing estate. Caroline explains:
“I first met Wendy six years ago when we set up the Charitable Trust and were trying to find out more about what was going on in our local area. Since then we have got to know a very dedicated lady who is passionate in her drive to support local children. Many of the children on this estate are from very disadvantaged families and Wendy is there for them - providing fun and educational activities as well as practical support.
In addition to the youth club she runs a Kids’ Lunch Café, three days per week throughout the school holidays serving up a much-needed two course healthy meal to over fifty local children and some parents every day. The food is prepared and served by children from the cooking club under Wendy’s guidance and is a fantastic learning experience for the children involved. Wendy also enlists the help of a band of adult ‘washer-up-ers’. There is a great team spirit and much needed focus for the holidays, in addition to promoting healthy cooking and eating.
One Mum told me how quickly the summer holidays had gone by and how much fun they had had helping with the lunches. It’s a pleasure to support this group, both practically and financially and I think I was as excited as Wendy when she won the Services to the Community Award at the Huddersfield Examiner Pride of Huddersfield Awards this year.”
The second story could not be more different, as Caroline made clear:
“The Huddersfield Mrs Sunderland Festival, now in its 128th year, is one of the most prestigious events in the north of England and attracts performers from all parts of the United Kingdom, eager to have their talents recognised and encouraged by specialist adjudicators. It is named after a famous local soprano soloist Susannah Sunderland ‘The Yorkshire Queen of Song’ who performed for Queen Victoria.
An entirely voluntary committee of very dedicated individuals, who are keen to reach out to the wider community, undertakes to ensure the continued success of this festival. Whilst maintaining the professional quality and integrity of the competition, the festival now includes workshop events to inspire and enthuse young people who would not previously have had such an opportunity. It is through our involvement as sponsors of these workshops over the last three years that we have witnessed just what an amazing impact they have. Preparation starts months ahead of the competition itself, no prior musical talents are required, and the enthusiasm and energy from all the children and teachers involved is incredible.”
“The support Caroline and the ONE17 Trust provide the charity is remarkable, we are very grateful for all the support, expertise, money and friendship. Such a fantastic Trust that really supports the little people and values the ordinary folk. - Thank you very much.”- One Good Turn Team
Finally, Lorna Wright, Community Engagement Manager at North Huddersfield Trust School (NHTS), one of the schools with whom we partner, is keen to emphasis the importance of that relationship.
“As a Trust school, NHTS benefits from additional support from local, national and multinational business and education partners. These organisations bring a wealth of opportunity to enrich the lives of our students and have played a key role in moving the school forwards.”
Not everyone is lucky in life; having an opportunity to do something about that, no matter how small, is one of the great privileges of running a business. For reasons of scale if nothing else we have taken the maxim ‘Charity Begins at Home’ as a motivation to look on our own doorstep and try to make a difference.
For further details on the work of the Trust please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit