Aviva partners with BITC to provide much-needed support for communities across the UK
Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today announced Aviva as its Founding Place Partner to help expand BITC’s long-term national place strategy to support communities across the UK.
The partnership will see Aviva and BITC work together to build thriving communities by breaking down barriers that impact access to education and employment, improving housing and local facilities, and tackling wider inequalities facing individuals throughout the UK. The work will bring together key local stakeholders in places such as community groups, businesses and local councils to create a strategic vision for long-term change.
Aviva is the first Place Partner helping to develop this work, which will focus on increasing the number of communities currently supported by BITC’s Place programme. As the UK’s leading insurance, wealth and retirement business, with 16 million UK customers, the partnership builds on Aviva’s existing work to positively impact the communities where its employees and customers live and work. It also builds on BITC’s forty years of experience in transforming communities and is part of its ambition to support 50 communities across every region and nation in the UK by 2032.
The partnership will initially focus on Sheffield and Norwich, two places where BITC currently works, and where Aviva has a major presence and long-standing commitment to the community. Aviva currently employs approximately 5,000 people in Norwich and 2,000 people in Sheffield. In these places, the number of households in deprivation is higher than the national average (51.7%), highlighting the importance of the partnership. 
As part of the partnership, Aviva will provide skilled volunteering and secondment opportunities for its employees to help build programmes currently being run in Sheffield and Norwich. This includes businesses working with schools to bridge the gap between school and employment and supporting parents on reading, writing, IT, and digital literacy.
The partnership comes as Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive of Aviva, led a group of C-suite business leaders on a BITC Seeing is Believing visit to Blackpool. The visit included meeting people working on community projects that support recovery, provide access to better quality housing, and help young people reach their full potential. It provided an opportunity to hear first-hand about the complexity and interconnectivity of challenges facing people living and working in a place.
During the visit, BITC asked the group, which included leaders from Atos, Lloyds Banking Group, Hydrock, Morgan Sindall Group, BAE Systems and QuestGates, to consider how businesses can intervene to address these issues, whilst also understanding the business return of doing so.
BITC has been working in Blackpool for over seven years and has successfully brought together the public, private and voluntary sectors to promote economic development and tackle challenges facing the area by agreeing a single vision – the Blackpool Town Prospectus: 2030 Agenda for Action – for the place. This work led to Blackpool receiving the largest single Town Deal of £40m, and more recently, Blackpool was announced as the first place to enter into a Levelling Up partnership with the Government.
Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive Officer of Aviva Plc, and leader of BITC’s Blackpool Seeing is Believing visit, said:
“It is inspiring to see how Blackpool is successfully tackling the various challenges it faces. Through businesses and local communities working together, new opportunities are being created, lives are being improved and Blackpool is being regenerated. The success of this partnership approach is why Aviva is joining forces with Business in the Community to help other communities in the UK become more financially resilient and inclusive, through improving access to education, work and housing.”
Mary Macleod, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said:
“Investing in communities to transform lives is not only the right thing to do; it also makes business sense. Supporting local communities is at the heart of Aviva’s Sustainability Ambition, and as a founding member of BITC, this makes them a natural strategic partner to help us take this work to scale to transform more lives and help communities thrive. It’s never been more important for businesses to invest in the places where their employees, communities, suppliers and wider stakeholders live and work. And, in the midst of challenging times for so many, we can offer a voice of hope with a positive vision, solutions for change and opportunities for the future. Aviva’s leadership shows that they are committed to building a fairer and greener world for everyone across all parts of the UK.”
About BITC’s Place Partnership
Business in the Community (BITC) believes in long-term strategic partnerships to build solutions to help address some of the biggest challenges facing society today. Focusing not only on the unexpected but also uncovering emerging trends contributing to social stability and economic growth, BITC’s ambition is to continue changing millions of lives by building a fairer and greener world, driven by fairer and greener businesses. Breaking down long-standing barriers in communities that lead to inequalities is critical to this work. Building on forty years of experience in business intervention and the collective action needed to support communities across the UK, BITC has set an ambitious target to work in 50 places over the next 10 years by working together to transform lives and help communities thrive. Aviva is the first of BITC’s Place Partners helping to scale up this work to provide much-needed support for communities across the UK.
About BITC’s Seeing is Believing programme
BITC’s Seeing is Believing programme was established by the then Prince of Wales in 1990. The programme, supported by Salesforce, was born from a simple but powerful belief that the best way to close the gap between the boardroom and the community was to take business leaders out to the communities and, through the power of experiential learning, inspire and challenge participants. The visits are designed to encourage business leaders to think strategically about the implications for their own businesses and the practical actions that can be taken in response, leading to meaningful and sustained impact for both businesses and communities. To date, over 25,000 business leaders have taken part in the Seeing is Believing programme, and over the next 10 years BITC’s ambition is to involve 10,000 leaders, including CEOs, their leadership teams, and future leaders in the programme.
Notes to editor
1. Photos available upon request.
2. As a Founding Member of Business in the Community (BITC), Aviva has worked alongside BITC for forty years on a range of responsible business practices, including community engagement, diversity and inclusion and sustainability. The Place Partnership announced today builds on four decades of working together to make the UK a fairer and greener place to live and work.
3. Census 2021 data – Household deprivation. The dimensions of deprivation used to classify households are indicators based on four selected household characteristics: education, employment, health and housing. The following places have higher levels of deprivation compared to the England and Wales average:
- In Blackpool, 61.77% of households are deprived in one or more areas. In other places, the percentage of households deprived in one or more areas includes:
- Bradford, 57.05%
- Coventry, 55%
- Norwich, 55.04%
- Newport, 54.14%
- Rochdale, 57.35%
- Sheffield, 54.63%
4. BITC currently works in several places, including Blackpool, Bradford, Coventry, Newport, Norwich, Rochdale, Sheffield and Wisbech. In some of these communities, levels of unemployment for 16 to 64-year-olds are higher than the national average which is currently at 4% (ONS Labour market overview, UK: July 2023) including:
- In Blackpool, the unemployment rate is 6%
- In Bradford its 5.6%
- In Coventry its 4.8%
- In Sheffield it’s 7%.
Source: Employment, Unemployment and Inactivity – Annual Population Survey 2022
5. For 16-17-year-olds not in education or employment, the UK average is 3.3%. However, in Blackpool, it’s 7% and in Sheffield, it’s 4.5%. Participation in education, training and NEET age 16 to 17 by local authority.
For further information, please contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media, Public Affairs and Policy on 07702 903 216.