500,000 people supported through COVID-19 by businesses
500,000 people have been helped by companies through Business in the Community’s (BITC) National Business Response Network, a digital platform to match communities in need with businesses which could help during the pandemic and beyond.
The National Business Response Network made more than 2,700 matches in 33 weeks from March 2020 to November 2020, reaching half a million recipients.
But further restrictions and a harsh winter mean that communities are still in desperate need of food, clothing, care essentials and digital skills.
Businesses have the resources to help. During a special, hour-long Responsible Business Live broadcast, BITC called on organisations to give more; special guests HRH The Prince of Wales (royal founding patron of BITC) reflected on the responsibilities that businesses have towards their communities and the planet – especially during an emergency.
National Business Response Network matches made during the pandemic include:
- 10,000 sandwiches a week from London North Eastern Railway to food distribution charity FareShare.
- 1,828 phones from Tesco Mobile to 34 charities to allow their users to stay connected with their support services.
- 250 laptops from BP supported 11 schools and charities to enable their students and staff to continue learning and working.
- IKEA donated 560 items of bedding and household items to support groups working with homeless clients and women fleeing domestic violence.
- Bromley & Croydon Women’s Aid needed help to remotely support victims and survivors of domestic violence. It experienced an increase of 120% in referrals to its services and calls to its support line doubled in the first three months of lockdown. Connected through the NBRN, technology firm Verizon provided digital training so staff members could stay connected with women in need. It also allowed the charity to continue awareness training for employers. For some, having that remote connection was a lifeline.
Lucy Pleass, Director of Operations at Bromley & Croydon Women’s Aid, said: “We had a video call with a client who said her back was hurting. But we could tell there was an unspoken message there. We advised her to get to a GP and we were able to meet her there. It turned out her back was covered in cigarette burns. We were then able to put in place the support she needed to escape. For that woman, talking to us online would have saved her life.”
In a pre-recorded video filmed for Responsible Business Live, HRH The Prince of Wales and royal founding patron of BITC said: “For very nearly four decades I have been adamant about the vital role that business has to play in communities; after all, that ambition was one of the foundation stones of BITC itself back in 1982. At the time, we may not have had a global pandemic in mind, but in many ways the National Business Response Network is the ultimate realisation of the dream that we shared almost 40 years ago: I need hardly say how immensely grateful I am to every business leader who has had the courage to support it. I have no doubt that those who have done so have changed countless lives.”
Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, added: “Communities across the UK are locked into a battle against COVID-19 this winter. BITC’s National Business Response Network has already changed half a million lives – bringing the might of businesses to our doorsteps. But we can do more. Business is back in the community and together we can make sure the right support at the right time gets to the right place.”
About Business in the Community
Business in the community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business. We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to:
- Develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow;
- Build thriving communities where people want to live and work;
- Innovate to sustain and repair our planet.
About BITC’s National Business Response Network
BITC’s National Business Response Network connects national and local community groups, small businesses, local authorities and charities with businesses and brands who can offer support. Our mission is to match business resources to community needs in the right place, at the right time.
We are proud to have the support of our founding partners, (AXA, the COVID-19 Support Fund and London Stock Exchange), our supporting partners (Assurant, Barclays, UPS and the National Lottery Community Fund) and our network partners (CBI, FareShare, In Kind Direct, the National Emergencies Trust, the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership, Neighbourly, RE:ACT and UK Community Foundations).