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 Special Features                      Issue 37 | September 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Solutions Up and Running in Leeds, UK

Tony Rogers

By Tony Rogers

The latest 'Pathfinder' research from the UK's Meetings Industry Association (MIA) has confirmed the continuing importance to meeting planners and to meeting and event suppliers of achieving corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives, with 40 percent of survey respondents expecting to increase their focus on CSR. The challenge, of course, can be how best to do this, not only in the planning and marketing of events but also in their production and on-site management. How do you ensure that events deliver a worthwhile social legacy and a tangible benefit to the city or community in which they are held?

One innovative and pioneering solution (or in fact a twin solution!) to this dilemma is offered by the city of Leeds in the UK. 'Sharing the Success', the Leeds brand for the Government's Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI) Programme, in partnership with Camberwell Project Ltd and Tiger11, has invested in the re-development and refurbishment of two former Victorian school buildings in inner city Leeds. The result: venues that embody the essence of corporate responsibility, community involvement and support for local entrepreneurs, all bundled into first class conference and meetings space.

Multi-million pound investments have been made to transform Shine, located in the Harehills district of Leeds, and Hillside, situated in Beeston, into quality meeting venues with a strong social and community ethos.

An interior photo of Shine.Shine is an award-winning re-development which opened in September 2008. The building is owned and run by Harehills Community Interest Company, with at least 91 percent of profits being used to support entrepreneurs in the most deprived neighbourhoods of Leeds. Camberwell Project Ltd has overseen the transformation of the building, as part of its vision to implement lasting change for social benefit through undertaking property development, high growth business consultancy and enterprise programmes in disadvantaged areas. Shine offers conference, meeting, training and corporate entertaining facilities in 18 separate rooms (maximum capacity 130) and other attractive spaces on two floors. There is also serviced office space for rent, a gallery area to display works of art, a gym and leisure club, drop-in space for free one-to-one meetings, a quiet room, showers, and substantial free car parking. Located less than 2 miles from Leeds city centre, Shine also hosts a Catalyst Centre, providing hot-desking, IT resources, networking events, information and advisory services for locally-based entrepreneurs and small businesses.www.shinebusinesscentre.co.uk

Hillside is a smaller building but with many attractive architectural features. It is just one mile from Leeds city centre and a similar distance from M621 junction 3. It has been developed by Tiger11, a community development trust working to stimulate and support social enterprise and to improve the neighbourhoods of Beeston and Holbeck in Leeds 11. Tiger11 is community-owned and led and reinvests its profits in the community. Hillside opened in October 2008. As well as conference and meeting facilities for up to 130, Hillside has a number of office units available for rent, plus a café / restaurant and a lounge. There is also a children's play area at the rear of the building. In June Tiger11 was awarded the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark, which identifies businesses meeting defined criteria for social enterprise and confirms that such businesses are trading to benefit people and planet. It joins other ethical businesses, such as the Eden Project, which have also been awarded the Mark.

An exterior photo of Hillside.Shine and Hillside are developing packages which will combine half-day meetings with half a day's involvement and interaction with the local communities in a range of projects and activities. Such activities are expected to include environmental improvement schemes, contributions to community radio programmes, support for charitable and community organisations in inner city Leeds.

'We have used Shine recently for our Professional Learning Programme events and were delighted by the venue,' commented client Madeleine Irwin of Creative Partnerships and CapeUK, a leading independent research and development agency in the field of creativity, learning and development. 'It's great that profits from Shine go back to the local community, and our delegates gave us some fantastic feedback on the venue's inspiring atmosphere, design and catering.'

Dawn O'Keefe, CEO of Shine, says: 'By using venues such as Shine and Hillside, organisations with a genuine desire to make a difference are able to achieve their CSR objectives while carrying on their normal day-to-day business. Trading with Social Enterprises is a clear message that your CSR policy is embedded in everything you do. Many companies are looking for a unique venue, somewhere that provides a creative environment, somewhere that stimulates staff to think outside the box. Shine and Hillside provide unique environments - clearly demonstrating your commitment to making a difference to your staff, clients, partners and suppliers.'

As Rob Davidson, Senior Lecturer in Business Travel and Tourism at the University of Westminster, writes: 'Including social legacy activities in meetings can considerably enhance the image of individual companies and the business tourism industry as a whole, by demonstrating their social awareness and desire to make a difference. This is particularly important at a time like the present, when the economic climate means that media and company shareholders are alert to corporate events that appear too lavishly funded.'

Simon Brereton.Simon Brereton, Manager of 'Sharing the Success', comments: 'We see investments in venues such as Shine and Hillside as a means of taking enterprise into the heart of our communities, creating opportunities for people to change their lives and exploit their latent entrepreneurial ambitions. By regenerating these disadvantaged communities we can also preserve key features of our architectural heritage. We believe that we are offering something unique in Leeds which may serve as a model of best practice in the transformation of industrial cities around Britain.'

Further Information

  1. 'Sharing the Success' (Leeds Local Enterprise Growth Initiative): Simon Brereton - tel: +44 (0) 113 220 6350 or e-mail: simon.brereton@enterpriseleeds.co.uk
  2. Shine: Dawn O'Keefe, Chief Executive - tel: +44 (0) 113 388 0000 or e-mail: Dawn.OKeefe@shinebusinesscentre.co.uk
  3. Hillside: Jeremy Morton, Chief Executive - tel: +44 (0) 113 387 6300 or e-mail: Jeremy.morton@tiger11.org.uk

Sharing the Success

Leeds was awarded GBP 15.6 million over three years in Round 2 of the Government-funded Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI) in 2006. This was extended by GBP 5 million in December 2007. 'Sharing the Success' is based on three themes: engaging people, business and investors. It focuses on opening up opportunities for employment, self-employment and investment in the city's most deprived areas, allowing everyone to share in the economic success of Leeds and play an active part in its growth. Some 20 cities around Britain now run LEGI programmes.

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Tony Rogers is a consultant specialising in conferences, business visits and events, and venue/destination marketing and management. He established his own consultancy, Tony Rogers Conference and Event Services Ltd, in September 2009. For more details visit www.tony-rogers.com or email tony@tony-rogers.com