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Guest blog: Don't forget the 'S' in ESG

Guest blog by Matthew Ellis, Director of Direct Distribution at OneFamily

Matthew Ellis, OneFamily

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), the three key factors in measuring the sustainability and impact of a business, are unquestionably well and truly in the spotlight.  With the climate crisis deepening as each day passes and COP26 underway, it’s understandable that the ‘E’ of this acronym gets a lot of the star treatment.  It’s got everyone tripping over themselves to prove just how green they can be.  And quite right too.

But what about the quieter ‘S’ – the bit that looks at how a company treats people both within and externally to their organisation?  I agree it doesn’t quite have all the bells and whistles of ‘E’ – I mean it’s not about saving the planet, but it is important.  Who we are, our cultural DNA, is in how we treat others.

I have an example of the ‘S’ in practice.  I became aware of the charity Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) a while back. It's a national charity that encourages whole family conversations with the aim of helping older people to live safely and well at home, with any care or support they may need. 

It provides free, impartial information and advice to help them plan ahead by age proofing their homes, find out about local services they can access or explore options for moving to somewhere more suitable.

It’s one of those organisations that you probably only become aware of if you’ve had a crisis.  Perhaps Mum or Dad has had a fall and the alarm bells ring on whether they should be living where they do.

EAC’s Advice Line service had worked with around 20,000 older people and families a year until funding cuts forced it to shrink its capacity to less than 5,000. As a mutual, financial inclusion and supporting people in their time of need is a priority for OneFamily, so we wanted to help.   

The simple solution would be to provide funding, and we have donated some money to support the telephone advice line.  However, we also recognised that, to be able to help more older people into the future, the service needed to be sustainable and less reliant on charitable funding.

We wanted to make a long-term difference and looked at other, more practical ways that we could volunteer our support and expertise.  So, we’ve helped them with the recruitment and training of their new telephone advisers, and we’ll also be advising EAC as they move towards a self-funding model that may include exploring opportunities for revenue that could be generated by their website.

We think that by volunteering our time and commercial expertise alongside our financial support we will empower the team at EAC to find a sustainable long-term solution.

The ‘S’ isn’t necessarily about handing money over and believing that the job is done.  We think it’s about investing time to do the right thing to bring about long-term change that will make a positive impact on the lives of others. 

And that makes me proud.

To find out more about the work of Elderly Accommodation Counsel please visit https://housingcare.org/  


The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.

Posted by Jo Gilham on 11 November 2021