Raising the Bar draws twice as many businesses as last year

Leeds city council leader Judith Blake

Businesses have broken the record of entry submissions for the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce social impact awards, Raising the Bar.

With 142 entries – more than double those of 2017 – Raising the Bar organisers feel the increase reflects a shift in even more businesses ‘giving back’ – and are expecting a bumper turnout to the Leeds awards event later this month.

The Chamber’s Raising the Bar awards is sponsored by Provident Financial, the Business Enterprise Fund and new sponsors Hungate York Regeneration Ltd – the developers behind the Hungate development in York. Leeds City Council is also supporting the awards which are part of a wider initiative to encourage and support local firms who want to do more to support their local community, their employees and the environment.

The 2018 Raising the Bar initiative has for the first time included a new measurement tool to help businesses in Bradford, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire to review their social impact. On the evening, Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, will give a welcome speech and Richard Mason, Senior Manager for the responsibility programme at Burberry, will be the guest speaker.

Rebecca Farhall, business development manager from Bradford-based chartered accountants Naylor Wintersgill, which has previously won the Raising the Bar ‘Economy’ and ‘Community’ category awards, said the team has used the measurement tool for the first time in the entry process.

“We’re entering the awards for the fourth year because we’re incredibly proud of our charitable ethos and feel it’s important to reward our team’s efforts by getting recognition and support for all the great work they do,” she explained.

“The new online measurement tool has made a real difference to the awards entry process – by entering the details of everything we’ve done – right down to the smaller day-to-day operational changes we’ve made – I was able to see, in one place, the effectiveness of our actions. It was brilliant for the award entry process but has also shown where we are making the biggest impact and where we can improve. Importantly, it’ll help Naylor Wintersgill in improving our overall social impact in 2019.”

Alongside the awards and the new benchmarking tool, the Raising the Bar programme offers online ‘how to’ guides, skills sharing top tips and inspiring case studies to advise and equip firms of all sizes to take the steps needed to get the best out of their social impact activity, throughout the year.

Richard Cook, Head of event sponsor Lendlease Residential, Europe, the firm behind Hungate Regeneration Ltd, said:“As a company we are passionate about our social responsibility and are committed to making a difference to the local community. At Hungate, our development in the centre of York, we have a dedicated community liaison manager who is responsible for hosting regular activities and devising a wide range of programmes and initiatives that involve residents and the wider community.

“Raising the Bar is a fantastic initiative and we are proud to enter the award for the third year running, enabling us to demonstrate our dedication to supporting the local community at Hungate.”

The Raising the Bar awards event is being held from 6pm – 8.30pm on Thursday 27th November at Leeds Civic Hall. Tickets cost £18 to West and North Yorkshire Chamber members, £30 to non-members and two free tickets are offered to shortlisted companies. To book your tickets call 01274 206660.