Focused on our community

OSB has very strong links with the community in which it operates, especially through its Kent Reliance brand which has been synonymous with the county of Kent and has been a passionate supporter of its local community for over 150 years.

As we are one of the largest employers in the region, many of our employees live within the local community and therefore have a personal affinity with local causes and projects. Employee feedback is vital in helping to decide where support can be best placed within the community.

Our diverse community services programme includes being a major sponsor of South-East-based ‘Demelza Hospice Care for Children’ and staff-nominated national charity ‘Winston’s Wish’. We also donate to local Kent-based charitable causes through our ‘Kent Reliance Community Fund’ (‘KRCF’). KRCF is the key sponsor of the ‘Kent County Football Association’ (which includes 24 County Cup competitions and player development centres for under-represented groups) and ‘Kent County Cricket Club’, and provides sponsorship for the disability squads and academy programme which helps to develop new talent. Our ‘Project Kent’ and ‘Make Someone’s Christmas’ campaigns are undertaken with a local media partner to highlight and support local people and projects in need. For the fifth year running, we have supported a key reading initiative, called ‘Buster’s Book Club’ at Medway primary schools, which focuses on fun and innovative ways to help develop literacy levels.

In 2017, we refocused our community services programme to provide more of a ‘hands on’ approach by encouraging our employees to take an active role with all fundraising and volunteering opportunities. Each employee is given one day’s annual leave for volunteering which they can use to actively support any registered charity of their choosing, or to support the Bank’s charity partnerships. Furthermore, if employees choose to undertake additional fundraising activities then the Bank will match any funds raised up to a specific amount. During the year, employees carried out over 300 volunteering hours, which in monetary terms equates to nearly £7,000.

Overall, the Bank has contributed a total of over £209,000 to community and charitable causes in 2017 through sponsorship programmes, activities and donations.

Demelza is a children’s hospice charity in the South-East, providing compassionate and expert care for babies, children, young people and their families. As a registered charity, Demelza offers bespoke support, free of charge, to families and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In order to provide these vital services, it needs to raise over £10m a year.

As a locally-based charity, employees from Kent Reliance are hugely aware of and are keen supporters of Demelza. They participated in a number of fundraising events throughout the year including being headline sponsors and participants of the annual Kent Messenger Dragon Boat Race, which helped raise over £150,000 in sponsorship for local charities and good causes across the county in 2017. The event continues to be one of the biggest charity fundraising events staged in Kent and the Kent Reliance teams helped raise donations for Demelza through their efforts on the day and subsequent promotion.

Kent Reliance also takes huge pride in raising money for Demelza through a range of annual fundraising events involving quizzes and bake-off challenges. Aside from straightforward fundraising, we also engage with the local community by gifting our branch network as collection and promotion outlets for the charity. Engagement with the charity doesn’t end with our sponsorship. Employees actively welcome opportunities to get hands-on with Demelza, with many visiting the Hospice on volunteer days to help clear and maintain the grounds, create a new sensory garden for families and any other tasks that may arise during the year. 

Throughout 2017, we continued to support our nominated corporate charity, Winston’s Wish, which was the first charity to establish child bereavement support services across the UK. Winston’s Wish provides specialist support programmes for children affected by deaths related to homicide and suicide, as well as military families who have been bereaved.

The highlight of this year’s fundraising activity took place in June as eight intrepid employees from across the Group cycled a 270-mile route, stopping at each of our UK branches and offices in three days. Fortunately, the team was blessed with great weather, no major mechanical incidents and only a few map reading glitches. 270 miles in three days was an ambitious target but, ably supported by huge helpings of food and encouragement at each of our branches and offices, the team managed to raise a grand total of £11,155 for Winston’s Wish, bringing the total amount raised throughout 2017 to £17,700.

Project Kent was a new initiative that launched in 2017 in conjunction with the KM Media Group, led by KMFM. This community initiative was powered by nominations from local people who were asked to nominate a local scheme they thought was of benefit to the local community. Nominations received varied, including a community centre that had fallen into disrepair, a neighbourhood group that needed equipment for an afterschool club and a small local charity struggling to promote their services.

Throughout the selection process, it was clear that there were two schemes that fully deserved a helping hand as each presented a wonderful asset to their local communities. Both Farthing Corner Community Centre and Beltinge Nursery were integral assets within their community but due to lack of funds they were unable to make vital repairs or make improvements to their existing services.

The projects offered employees an opportunity to provide hands-on support through internal decorating, grounds clearance and general cleaning once building works had been carried out. Both projects have benefitted greatly from the improvements and are now better equipped to serve their local communities for many more years to come.

The partnership between Kent FA and Kent Reliance has grown over the last five years and now covers all 24 Kent County Cup competitions. Kent Reliance is also a key sponsor of the Kent Girls and Disability Player Development Centre, resulting in us being named Kent FA’s first official ‘Community Partner’.

The Kent Reliance Girls and Disability Player Development Centres provide professional coaching to improve the standards of girls and disability grassroots football in Kent. The support from Kent Reliance will enable the transition of young players to elite football as well as providing a community exit route for players leaving the elite talent pathway.

Paul Dolan, Kent FA’s Chief Executive, is delighted to have the continued support from Kent Reliance,

“We are now in the fifth and final season of the partnership between Kent Reliance and the Kent FA, which has always been about supporting and promoting our local community. Both organisations are totally committed to being inclusive and our innovative partnership has reflected this by engaging, developing and rewarding all areas of our diverse community.
The Kent Reliance Girls and Disability Player Development Centres have provided a unique opportunity for talented players in Kent to gain additional football coaching and the 24 Kent Reliance County Cup competitions have catered for over 1,000 community-based teams each season of all standards and ages to play competitive football. This community-based partnership between Kent Reliance and the Kent FA has been used as a model of best practice for other County Football Associations across the country to emulate in order to further the development of grassroots football.”

This partnership also sees the continuation of the highly successful #MagicOfTheCup competition which is run on a monthly basis during the football season and encourages local teams to enter a submission which illustrates sportsmanship, goodwill and skilled play. In return, the winning team receives football equipment and is put forward to compete as overall winner. Over 15 teams won football equipment during the competition last season and this year the overall winner was Ramsgate Football Club Senior Team. The team won 16 tickets for the England vs Slovakia international match at Wembley on 4 September 2017.

The Kent Charity Awards (‘KCA’) showcase the hard work that charities and voluntary groups from around the county undertake to make the lives of others better. Celebrating and supporting the county at a grassroots level is key to Kent Reliance’s charitable endeavours and our sponsorship of KCA reflects that.

In 2017, Kent Reliance continued its partnership with KCCC, by supporting the Club’s community programme. As with our commitment to Kent FA, this relationship is another opportunity to really support grassroots activity within the county and encourage people of all abilities to get involved and enjoy sport. Our sponsorship activity provides for funding for the Disability Performance Squads who currently operate two teams:

  • The Kent Reliance Learning & Physically Disabled (‘LDPD’) Performance Squad
  • The Kent Reliance Visually Impaired (‘VI’) Performance Squad
  • Both squads train during the winter months and represent Kent in national competitions against other counties during the summer months. This is the first step to representing the national team managed by the England and Wales Cricket Board. The LDPD squad currently plays in two formats of cricket, both softball, and for the more experienced players, full cricket balls (hardball). The VI team play with size three footballs which have been adapted to contain beads which rattle, although the national team play with regular cricket ball size hardball, again adapted to rattle and the squad trains throughout the year at a number of venues around the county.

Jamie Clifford, CEO, KCCC, says “We have been delighted to once again enjoy the support of Kent Reliance in 2017. With Kent Reliance we have continued to develop the Academy programme. The partnership has enabled us to bring in specialist coaches and further develop players’ life skills, which helps the preparation for a professional career. Our disability cricket programmes have also been boosted by the support of Kent Reliance which allows us to provide kit, coaching and facilities for our players. Thank you Kent Reliance for the difference you make.”

The Make Someone’s Christmas campaign encourages listeners and readers of KMFM and KM Media Group and customers of Kent Reliance branches, to nominate those people they feel deserve an extra special treat during the festive season. Following the big success of the programme in previous years, this year had a hard act to follow but achieved as many nominations for the well-deserving and those in need. In 2017, we helped ten special people in Kent with ten bespoke prizes that really helped make their Christmas. Nominations were varied and included a father and daughter that had lost their wife and mum just before Christmas, an eight-year old boy who wanted to nominate his parents for their hard work in the community and a woman who annually put her Christmas Day on hold so that she could provide a Christmas lunch for the elderly. Each winner was announced live on the radio during a two-week period and received well-deserved prizes ranging from holiday vouchers to a spa day.

In 2017, Kent Reliance continued to support this educational charity to develop its new home reading initiative – Buster’s Book Club – in ten Medway schools. The scheme was extremely successful across the county with more than 7.5 million minutes of reading achieved and making the 26,000 children involved official members of the Millionaire Reading Club.

OSBI Fundraising

Corporate social responsibility (‘CSR’) is extremely important to OSBI. The concept of helping society is embedded in its corporate governance structure through the CSR policy and also through employee engagement.

As part of the OSBI CSR policy, funds are kept aside each year to spend on social causes. This is governed by a CSR Committee and implemented by the Corporate and Social Responsibility Group.

The focus is to help and contribute in areas where there is critical need and within the office locality so they are also able to contribute their time. In 2017, the CSR Group agreed to support the areas of child welfare, education and healthcare.

Child welfare

OSBI has partnered with the SOS Children’s Village, located in Bangalore, to fund education, food, clothing and housing for 20 orphans. Working together with SOS, OSBI employees helped to provide support for the holistic development of orphans, women and children belonging to vulnerable families. OSBI also hosted a couple of events at SOS for their staff to engage with the children, which was highly appreciated by both children and the employees.

Healthcare

OSBI is currently supporting affordable healthcare through a local government-run hospital called CV Raman General Hospital. The hospital provides subsidised medical facilities to the financially challenged members of the community in and around east Bangalore. OSBI has contributed various surgical and arthroscopy equipment that has enabled the hospital to conduct complex surgeries at a fraction of the price charged by private hospitals; for example, they are able to carry out keyhole surgery for ligament tears at under £5!

OSBI are now working with the hospital administration to provide employee volunteers to redo the gardens around the hospital which are currently in a poor state. OSBI plans to complete landscaping work with flowering trees and sprawling lawns along with a children’s play area and believes that this will aid in the emotional recovery of the patients.

Animal welfare

OSBI contributed to the movement and construction of a pet shelter run by Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (‘CUPA’). CUPA provides rescue and relief to thousands of injured, ill and needy street animals in Bangalore, Karnataka. Animals that come hurt, sick or abandoned are given the care and treatment they need to recover and then are re-homed or rehabilitated.

Looking forward to 2018

The activities undertaken in 2017 delivered a stronger emphasis on staff engagement within the local community to deliver real, tangible benefits and lasting value and we want to build on that in 2018.

As the sponsorship deals with Kent County Cricket Club and the Kent County Football Association come to an end this year, there is an opportunity to build on the community-based projects and initiatives that have been trialled in 2017 including:

  • Increased community involvement
  • Greater staff engagement, and
  • Activities that bring KR branches into the mix as ‘community hubs’.

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