Guest blog: Redefining our community programme to help tackle homelessness

Throughout 2023, Nottingham Building Society worked hard to align their community impact strategy with their strategic purpose. Laura Thomas, CSR Manager at the Society explains the how and why.

Laura Thomas, The NottinghamThroughout 2023 we at The Nottingham have worked to align our community impact strategy with our strategic purpose that we established in 2022 – to help those who have previously found it difficult to access a mortgage to own their own home.

This has seen us redefine our community programme to focus our work on supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to access both emergency and longer-term services to help them towards a safe home. 

As a direct result of this approach, we’re proud to have commenced two new strategic charity partnerships. The first is with Emmanuel House, a Nottingham-based independent charity working to support people who are homeless, rough sleeping, in crisis, or at risk of homelessness in and around the city.

Our partnership with Emmanuel House has already included a charitable donation of £100,000, which is intended to help them develop their portfolio of temporary accommodation and wraparound support services to those at immediate risk. We know that 1 in every 201 people in Nottingham are homeless and the number of people rough sleeping in Nottingham in 2023 is 47, up from 23 in 2022.

With provision for housing reducing and the need for homes clearly rising, we are working with Emmanuel House to fund temporary accommodation as well as offering the time and skills of our team members to provide additional support to people accessing their services. In 2023 our colleagues gave over 300 hours of volunteer time to Emmanuel House, providing practical help such as painting, donation sorting at their Support Centre and cooking meals at the charity’s Winter Shelter, which offers a safe space for up to 27 people each night from October - April. 

The Nottingham team donation sorting Donation to Emmanuel House

We are also working to develop our skills-based volunteering, where team members have been working with Emmanuel House’s women’s group to build a programme that includes financial resilience tips, practical support for managing finances and confidence building around money related conversations. In 2024 we will continue to build on this work as part of a wider coaching programme with Emmanuel House as well as continuing to collect donations for the charity in our head office, offer volunteer time and further collaborative projects.

Our work with Emmanuel House focuses support for people based in and around the Nottingham area, therefore with our second partnership we wanted to find a cause that any of our colleagues, members or customers could signpost people to, and where assistance could be provided and accessed across the country.

In December 2023 we were delighted to begin working with Shelter, which was supported by a donation of £50,000 to contribute to the running of their Sheffield-based helpline, the UK’s only dedicated call line for people at risk of homelessness and experiencing poor housing provision. 

As part of our partnership launch we began a fundraising and awareness campaign with colleagues, named ‘Step Out for Shelter’. Our aim was to bring colleagues across all locations together in support behind one cause, whilst enabling them to understand more about the housing crisis. We kicked off our partnership with a virtual seminar with some of the Shelter team, where all colleagues could hear about our new partnership along with the work Shelter do to fight for a safe and secure home for all. Our fundraising activities saw colleagues take part in a range of initiatives - a sponsored 30-day steps challenge, a festive jumper day, bake-offs and a Super Santa Dash from head office. Colleagues were also supported to run their own activities across all locations which saw team-members collectively fundraise over £5,000 for Shelter. 

Santa Dash to raise money for ShelterBeehive Bake Sale

At the end of 2023 we provided an opportunity for our customers and other savers to join us in support of our charity partners through a new Community Saver Account. This account offered a competitive interest rate whilst committing a donation equivalent to 0.5% of all balances held in the account giving customers the opportunity to sacrifice a portion of their interest, as a donation split equally between Emmanuel House and Shelter. This is the first time we have brought a community savings product to the market that directly benefits our charity partners, and we’re proud to have been able to share this opportunity with our customers in 2023, and even prouder to have been able to handover a further £25,000 donation to the two charities in January 2024.

To find out more, visit https://www.thenottingham.com/your-society/community