Colors: Blue Color

The Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report reveals today that two thirds (69%) of West Midland based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – representing 285,000* firms in the West Midlands with under 250 employees – say they have a diverse workforce, with almost half (45%) stating that improving diversity in the workplace is a focus over the next 12 months.

The report, which surveyed over a thousand senior business decision-makers across the UK, found that there are a number of reasons why they would describe their organisation as diverse. These include having an employee base with a wide age range (44%), being open to making adjustments for disabled employees to ensure they are not placed at a disadvantage (41%), having an ethnically diverse employee base (39%) and having a positive female to male ratio across the company (39%). Over a third (35%) of SMEs in the West Midlands also have female employees at a senior level and over a quarter (29%) employ diversity initiatives to ensure a positive work environment free from discrimination

Moreover, over a quarter (27%) of SMEs in the West Midlands admit to being much more likely to do business with a supplier, partner or provider that is well known for its inclusive employment strategies.

Despite this positive picture, a fifth (21%) of small and medium sized businesses in the West Midlands say they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year and an additional fifth (21%) said that increasing diversity is a low priority. This could be because their workforce is too small to be considered diverse (49%), but, at the same time, some SME leaders in the West Midlands also confessed that they tended not to attract a diverse range of potential employees (10%).

Carl D’Ammassa, Group Managing Director, Business Finance at Aldermore, said: “According to the last census**, the West Midlands is the second most diverse region in the UK so it is to be expected that the vast majority of small and medium-sized business owners in the region describe their workforce as diverse. However you define diversity, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, promoting a diverse workforce should be a key consideration within any business, since employees from a range of backgrounds can offer different experiences to help drive the success of progressive businesses. “

New research by the House & Garden Festival has found that over half (53%) of people in the UK can’t wait for the arrival of summer so they can indulge in spontaneous drinking celebrations. In addition, 1 in 10 people stated that they are partial to a morning drink as it becomes “more socially acceptable in the summer”.

Summer party activities, particularly those involving a tipple, also become a priority with 44% of people saying that champagne tasting is their idea of a dream summer party, followed by 11% with wine-pairing. A flower arranging workshop and canape making class follow jointly with 8% each.

More than a third (36%) of people said that they feel summer has officially arrived due to the longer days, whilst 1 in 10 (15%) said that their signal for the arrival of summer is the first time they bare their legs. Being able to laze about in the great outdoors is the greatest summer excitement for almost half (46%) of people, whilst simply being able to bask in the warmer temperatures is the highlight for over a quarter (26%) of people.

But it does seem that Brits have a love-hate relationship with summer with over half (52%) of people saying that what they hate most about British summers is that it rains too much. So when it comes to making party plans, a Plan B is actually the most important thing on the agenda for 61% of people.

This seems to stem from experience as 72% of Brits say they have hosted or been to an outdoor event that subsequently had to be cancelled or unexpectedly moved indoors due to poor weather. It might also explain why alongside a trusty barbecue, a gazebo is the most important summer party piece of equipment for 34% of people, followed by a parasol or umbrella for 16%.

However, Brits demonstrate their stoicism with over 63% of people saying that despite unexpected showers, they are determined to stay upbeat and refuse to let the weather rain on their parade.

‘A New Hope’ volunteers of Zong 4G’s flagship CSR program took the opportunity over this weekend to spend an iftaar with the street children of Islamabad. The children dwell in the urban slums of the Bari Imam area and sustain themselves by washing cars, picking garbage and selling small merchandise on the streets.

Earlier this year, Zong 4G had setup a 4G internet lab for these children at their school, connecting them to the virtual world for the first time. Since then, Zong’s volunteers have been delivering Internet awareness sessions to these children in a renovated and more modern environment. Recognizing the fact that Ramzan is a time of sharing prosperity and helping the neglected segments of the society, the volunteers took iftaar packages for the children and shared the meal in a festive atmosphere.

Zong 4G, a China Mobile Company, is a socially responsible organization that has always aimed to create an impact in the society by delivering on multiple social causes. Zong’s volunteers have shown a great resolve in contributing towards their civic duties in the past and continues to build on the momentum generated since the launch of the program. With a 75% market share and plans for 100% 4G upgrade by the end of this year, Zong is dominating the 4G arena propelling the country towards a new, brighter future. Activities such as these provide considerable impetus to the cause of enhancing social inclusion that in turns supports Zong’s desire of a prosperous Pakistan.

Seven year old underwater enthusiast Jack, from Birmingham, who has recently been diagnosed with autism, was desperate to help the animal care team at the city centre aquarium, who this week made his marine aspirations come true by organising a quiet afternoon with one of their team for this passionate mini Aquarist to help with some fish feeding.

Since being diagnosed with autism, Jack, aged 7, has struggled to continue concentration and has been Home Educated due to some of his difficulties within a school setting. As a regular visitor to the aquarium, Jack was familiar with the space, and his mother Clare noticed it stimulated his learning, making it the perfect place for him to spend time developing his knowledge.

Clare said: “We are so grateful to the National Sea Life Centre for organising this special day for Jack. It’s been incredible to see how being in the centre has calmed him and allowed him to focus and engage in a way he is often unable to with school learning. He’ll definitely be remembering this special day for a long time to come.”

The National Sea Life Centre is this month launching Quiet at the Aquarium, the first event of its kind for the centre, at 9am on Saturday 17th June. The event aims to provide a quieter experience, for a more comfortable aquarium visit for those with autism and other sensory requirements.

With the latest data showing the soaring cost of pet insurance, owners around the UK are looking for alternatives to providing for their loved one’s medical care. Pet insurance costs continue to outstrip inflation, with average increases of nearly 5% seen in the last six months alone.

Recent advances in medical care for animals is the main cause of the increase in the cost of pet insurance, which now makes the premiums unaffordable for many owners. Although 50% of the British public own pets, 75% of them don’t have insurance, with many citing the expense as a reason for not having cover.

British veterinarian Dr. Stewart Halperin, BVMS, MRCVS, founder and CEO of CarefreeCredit, says: “As a vet myself, I understand the problems faced when a pet-owner can’t afford the urgently-needed medical help required.  This is why we established CarefreeCredit with its ability to provide 0% finance quickly for those in need of a loan to provide desperately needed treatment for their pets when their owners aren’t insured and can’t afford to pay a large bill all at once.”

It’s no secret that the nation’s selfie obsession has become all-consuming, and a new consumer poll commissioned by The Open University (OU) unveils that over two thirds (67%) of Brummies indulge in taking selfies every week. On the other hand, almost half (45%) of them haven’t looked at their inner selves and thought about their life goals in over six months, which is why the OU is encouraging the people of Birmingham to self-reflect with the launch of a huge, mirrored, infinity Reflection Cube at the Bullring this Saturday 17th June.

The findings indicate that people may be consumed by surface level beauty and are neglecting to focus on their inner selves and personal ambitions. Nearly a fifth (19%) of people surveyed in Birmingham, confess to never setting aside any time to self-reflect, yet over two thirds (76%) agreed some time out to consider their lives would be beneficial.

One of the key perceived barriers preventing Birmingham residents from taking time out for themselves is guilt, with over half (54%) feeling riddled with remorse whenever they do. This is followed closely by work (53%) and house chores (45%).

In response to the findings, the OU is giving members of the public the chance to enjoy some much needed self-reflection time in the cube. The 3x3 metre squaredCube is mirrored inside and out and will be open at the Birmingham Bullring for the day. It will also be visiting a number of other locations this summer*, following its launch in London last month.

The experience inside the cube includes a 360° infinity mirror, a striking light installation and zen-like soundscape**, as well as questions to help people begin to self-reflect. The OU’s expert student services team will be on-hand to talk to visitors who may conclude that studying could help them achieve their ambitions or enable them to follow their dreams.

Of those surveyed in the OU poll, nearly three fifths of people from Birmingham (51%) professed that they were unsure of how to self-reflect and over half (55%) agreed that some tips on how to do so effectively would be useful.

Martha Lane Fox, Chancellor of the OU and founder of Doteveryone, comments: “Taking time out to reflect on what you’ve achieved so far and where you’d like to get to is vital for progression, both in your personal and work life. It can be tough at first, particularly when life is so hectic, but if you don’t take time to look at the bigger picture you could end up getting stuck in a routine that may not be working for you.

"Self-reflection is all about questioning what you do and why you do it, determining your passions and ambitions and creating a plan for the future. Don't be afraid to think big. Once you've defined your goals, it's key to think practically and logically about how you are going to get there. You will find that it becomes easier with practice and the end result is likely to be a happier and more competent you.”

Clare Riding, Heads of Careers and Employability Services at The Open University, concludes: “We’re already half way through 2017. June provides the perfect time to review what you’ve achieved so far in terms of your life goals and career progression and really think about whether you are going in the right direction.

“Ask yourself questions to help you work out whether what you are doing and how you are progressing in your career is really what you want. Is it truly fulfilling? Are you making the most of your own skills and the opportunities that are out there? Are you pursuing your passions?”

The Co-op Foundation is inviting youth charities in disadvantaged areas of England to apply for the first round of its #iwill fund.  

Last month, the Foundation announced a new £2 million partnership to help young people take action to tackle loneliness – a key issue the Co-op has been campaigning on for the past two years.  The first £400,000 of this funding will be awarded in 2017, through nine regional grants and one larger national project.

The #iwill fund is made possible thanks to a £40 million joint funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. £1 million from the #iwill fund will be matched pound-for-pound by the Co-op Foundation, who will use the combined pot to grow their national network of partners tackling youth loneliness.

Funds will be targeted at disadvantaged areas where there are currently fewer opportunities for youth social action – activities which make a positive difference to communities, while developing young people’s skills.

Jim Cooke, Co-op Foundation Manager, explains: “The challenges of growing up today, from the impact of social media to the ‘gig’ economy, mean that loneliness is a significant issue for young people.

“By creating more opportunities to take part in meaningful social action, we hope to strengthen young people’s sense of belonging and help develop a generation of confident, connected young citizens.”

Organisations awarded grants through the new fund will join an existing network of Co-op Foundation partners, who are addressing different aspects of youth loneliness and working together to share learnings about the issue.

One of these partners is Youth Focus: North East, who have worked with a group of young people to develop a grassroots peer-to-peer approach to tackling loneliness, called ‘Fast Friends’. Using photography as a way of exploring experiences of loneliness, the Fast Friends group are encouraging other young people to open up about this issue and take positive actions to support each other.

Fast Friends member Adam Cowley (21) said: "I think the loneliness project is important because a lot of young people suffer from isolation and we can all help to do something about it."

The #iwill fund supports the aims of the UK-wide #iwill campaign, co-ordinated by the charity Step Up To Serve, to increase the number of young people taking part in social action.

Charlotte Hill, CEO of Step Up To Serve, said: “Social action builds vital skills whilst also enabling young people to contribute to their communities.  Young people should ALL have access to these opportunities to make a difference, regardless of their background.

“This exciting new partnership is all about enabling young people to understand the challenges of loneliness and consider how they can help others to cope with them. I look forward to hearing about the great new youth-led projects this funding will support.”

The deadline for expressions of interest in applying to the fund is 7 July. To find out more, including full details of eligible areas and how to apply, visit

Since the start of the year, Bertrams Guldsmeden Hotel in Copenhagen has been implementing changes to their water management strategies to reduce overall water consumption.

Nikolas Hall, Host and Hotelier said, “As part of our constant efforts to improve, and contribute to a sustainable operation, we have chosen to install the ecoBETA water saving flush system in all our toilets. This system replaces the existing dual flush set-ups previously in place which while conserving water, were not as effective as the ecoBETA solution.”

The ecoBETA single button dual flush inserts can be fitted in most toilet makes and models to reduce water usage. This system uses one lever or button in place of conventional dual flush valves with two buttons and saves water by minimizing the risk of user error. Too often people will press a large flush button when only the half flush is required resulting in overuse, breakages and possible water leakages leading to increased maintenance costs.

The ecoBeta dual flush system is easy to use. For a half flush, guests simply press and release the lever or button. For a large flush, the lever is held down for 3-4 seconds. The large flush can also be interrupted, saving even more water.

“The ecoBETA dual flush solution constitutes a feasible option that effectively manages the balance between water supply and demand in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. This water efficient measure can be combined with other water saving products to raise awareness regarding water conservation,” added Mr. Hall.

In addition, all faucets in sinks and showers at the hotel are being changed from dual handles to single handle faucets manufactured by Hans Grohe. These faucets are EcoSmart certified – using 60% less water than traditional faucets.

“We look forward to seeing notable results in 2017,” concluded Mr. Hall.

A rare and highly valuable 19th century work of Russian literature dating back to before the reign of the last Tsar will be on sale this week, when a Birmingham City University collection goes to auction.

The 28 lots of some 200 books, mostly published in the 19th and early 20th century, includes a copy of the illustrated ‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’, edited by a Russian Count and issued in four volumes in 1892.

They are expected to raise over £50,000 when made available by Dominic Winter Auctioneers in South Cerney, Gloucestershire on Wednesday 14 June. Proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in to new learning resources for students at the University.

The collection was developed from the mid Victorian period to support art and design education provided by Birmingham City University in its various incorporations, notably Birmingham College of Art. The books are now being sold because they no longer have relevance to current learning, teaching or research at the University.

Chris Albury, Auctioneer and Senior Valuer for Dominic Winter Auctioneers said:

“We’re delighted to be able to handle this prestigious sale. It’s a very interesting and varied collection which includes a number of rarities – the undoubted highlight being the sumptuously illustrated ‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’, discovered in the collection, which we estimate will fetch £30,000 or more.

“This monumental, rare and influential work on Russian style contains over 500 large and vibrant chromolithographed plates of Russian artefacts including icons, crowns, costume, weapons and jewellery.”

The work was edited by Count Sergei Stroganov and the plates were made from drawings prepared by Fedor Solntsev, after he was sent to Moscow in 1830 to see the collections there and make the illustrations. Solntsev later went on to design the ‘Kremlin Service’ for the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

Steve Rose, Deputy Director, Library and Learning Resources at Birmingham City University, said:

“The ‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’ is a stunning collection of books. I will be sad to see the books leave the University, but it means we can place a greater emphasis on our extensive archives, photography and rare books that have direct relevance to the University’s research activity, as well as reinvest the funds from the sale into enhancing our student experience.

The set of six books was published with the Russian title ‘Drevnosti Rossiiskago Gosudarstva’ (‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’) in Moscow between 1849 and 1853, with a smaller seventh volume of text appearing in Russian and French.

Chris Albury added:

“What is remarkable and seemingly unique about the Birmingham City University copy is that it appears to have been issued in four volumes in 1892, using the 508 plates from the 1849-53 edition and incorporating an English title-page and English descriptions of the artefacts for the first time.

“Fortunately, the work has escaped unscathed from the potential damage of over 100 years of library usage and is in good condition. Bound in Victorian half-leather bindings this treasure-house of Russian art and design will be highly desirable on the open market.

“Only a modest 600 sets were published and even odd volumes and loose collections of plates from the work create considerable interest so we expect huge transatlantic international interest for this complete and unique ‘English language’ set.”

“Birmingham City University is a name that only dates back to 2007 and the original ownership of most of the varied books on art and design being sold here were no doubt acquired by one of the University’s original colleges, the Birmingham College of Art, which took its name in 1884.

“Birmingham has a world-famous and rich tradition in art and design, and it is wonderful to see so many beautifully illustrated books and portfolios of designs – from Dürer to Arts and Crafts – in one sale. It’s a testament to the richness of design worldwide and the incredible development of colour printing and book production that many of the books in this archive can still offer something tangible and rewarding that cannot be easily gleaned from the Internet.”

At the end of July, ‘The Great Eight Phantoms’, a Rolls-Royce Exhibition, will gather together the greatest Phantoms from the last 92 years in Mayfair, London. The Exhibition will also welcome the next generation of this most celebrated luxury item, the new eighth generation Phantom. In the lead up to the opening of the Exhibition, Rolls-Royce is announcing which Great Phantoms will journey to London from around the world, telling the stories of these motor cars, their fabled owners and the historical events they witnessed. It is with great pleasure that the marque announces today that the Rolls-Royce Phantom III of British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein will join the Exhibition.

Monty’s Triple

Although Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein was nicknamed the Spartan General due to his ascetic lifestyle, there was one area in which he demanded the very best – his personal transport. And his preference was for Rolls-Royce.

During World War Two, the Field Marshal had the use of three Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIs.

The first of the Phantoms, a 1936 model coachbuilt by Freestone & Webb, was owned by the head of English Talbot Motor Company, Frederick Wilcock, before being requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport Section. Montgomery used it as his personal transport in the run up to D-Day, and ferried Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower and King George VI to D-Day planning sessions at his base in Southwick House, Hampshire.

A keen believer in the power of the image, Montgomery used his Rolls-Royce Phantom to communicate permanence, solidity and reliability – a signal to his men that he was there to stay.

But it is the ‘Butler’ Phantom III, which will be present at the Exhibition in London, which proved to be Montgomery’s favourite. This particular Phantom was commissioned for Alan Samuel Butler, Chairman of the De Havilland Aircraft Company, with bodywork by HJ Mulliner of Chiswick. Its most striking feature was a front-sloping windscreen that made the car 15 per cent more aerodynamically efficient than the standard configuration. The motor car’s slippery nature was also helped by the enclosed spare tyre and swept tail.

The ‘Butler’ Phantom III was Montgomery’s main official mode of transport for many years visiting such eminent addresses as 10 Downing Street, the War Office on Whitehall, the British Prime Minister’s country residence Chequers, and military operations centres such as Northwood in Hertfordshire and the NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers-Europe in Rocquencourt, near Versailles, France.

The Field Marshal kept the 'Butler' Phantom until 1962, by which time it had also carried the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as taking Monty around the UK to historic meetings, inspections and celebrations.

The ‘Butler’ Phantom III has recently undergone extensive refurbishment at Rolls-Royce specialist P&A Wood in Essex, England.

‘The Great Eight Phantoms’ Exhibition will be the first and only opportunity for members of the public to see this amazing Rolls-Royce before it attends the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the United States in August, after which it will return to its current owner’s private collection.

‘The Great Eight Phantoms’, a Rolls-Royce Exhibition, will take place in Mayfair, London, at the end of July this year.

You may have your phones at the ready for National Selfie Day on 21st June, but gap year travel operators Oyster Worldwide claim it is time for us to #DitchTheSelfie.

The responsible travel specialists say that the urge to take travel selfies is taking over from the true enjoyment and appreciation of the moment.

Harriet Wray, Travel Adviser for Oyster Worldwide, says:

“We are seeing a trend for people wanting to take as many selfies in as many places as possible. People are rushing from one spot to another trying to pack in as many selfies as they can, rather than taking the time to stop and look around.

Real travel moments are experienced in those moments when we pause to take in a view, listen to the sound of the waves or have a conversation with an interesting local.

We think it's time to ditch the travel selfie and get back to enjoying real travel experiences off-camera, which is why we've launched our campaign to ditch the selfie.”

The travel company have conducted a global survey of over 1000 respondents to gather more information on travel selfie habits.

The survey found that 51% of respondents take 1-10 selfies during a 1-week holiday, with 45% sharing up to 5 of their selfies on social media.

Almost half of respondents claim that they share their travel selfies because their family and friends want to see them, while 10% admit they want to show off to their social media friends.

34% of those surveyed feel it is at least somewhat important for people to engage with their travel selfies on social media, with 35% saying they feel happy when someone likes their holiday selfie and 7% admitting it makes them feel validated.

The younger respondents placed prominence on social media interaction, with 53% of respondents aged 18-25 saying it was important or somewhat important that people liked their selfies on social media.

On top of this, 21% of all respondents say they feel disappointed or embarrassed if their travel selfie doesn't get any likes, while the number was again higher among the 18-25-year-old group, with 39% of these respondents saying they would feel disappointed or embarrassed.

With such emotions attached to travel selfies, it's not surprising to see that a quarter of respondents feel pressure to obtain a good selfie while on holiday, and 15% said they would be disappointed or upset if they didn't manage to obtain a good selfie while on holiday or travelling.

Birmingham Airport has announced that Paul Kehoe has decided to step down as Chief Executive effective from 12 July 2017.

Paul has led a substantial transformation at Birmingham Airport since he joined the business in October 2008, with passenger numbers growing from 9.5m to 12m in the year to March 2017.

More recently, Paul has been increasingly involved in successfully promoting the West Midlands Region as Chairman of Marketing Birmingham, President of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and in a new capacity as Chairman of the West Midlands Growth Company.  With the recently formed Combined Authority and the appointment of a West Midlands Mayor, by stepping down from the Airport, Paul will be able to focus on his regional commitments.

Since his appointment, Paul’s key achievements include:

·           Appointing and leading a strong and experienced management team to continue to develop the Airport.

·           Expansion of the route network and the number of airlines operating at Birmingham including daily services to Delhi with Air India, A380 services to Dubai with Emirates, and the introduction of 18 new airlines including Qatar Airways, Jet2 and the return of British Airways.

·           Key developments which have significantly improved the Airport include a new International Pier, extension of the runway to facilitate new long haul services, creation of a single Terminal and centralised security area, construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower and the establishment of a major engineering facility within the Monarch Airlines Engineering Hangar, the in-sourcing of Air Traffic Control and the Airport Fire Service, a complete overhaul and introduction of new retail brands including Marks & Spencer, Next, Superdry, All Bar One, Hugo Boss and operating the most successful Airport Wetherspoons in the country.

·    In addition, under Paul’s leadership the Airport has been awarded

o   World’s Most Punctual Airport in 2016

o   Star Airport of the Year Award 2014, 2015 and 2016

o   2017 Routes Europe Award for Marketing for 4-20m passengers Airport

John Hudson, Chairman of Birmingham Airport, said “On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our grateful thanks to Paul for the tremendous contribution he has made to Birmingham Airport during the last nine years.  Under his leadership, the Airport has built relationships with new carriers, grown passenger numbers to more than 12m, and delivered significant economic value to the region.  His connections with the local community set Paul apart as a true industry leader.  He leaves with our strong support and the highest admiration for his commitment to Birmingham Airport and the West Midlands.”

Paul Kehoe said: “It has been a privilege to serve the people of the West Midlands by leading their Airport at this exceptional time.  I planned originally to stay only for five years, but the challenge became so exciting that I stayed for another four.  In every role there is a natural business cycle, and after delivering significant airline and passenger growth, completing all the major development projects which resulted in a doubling of the profit, generating significant dividends for shareholders and the region, I feel it is time for the next generation to take the business forward.”

Celebrities, advertisers and the public must stop normalising flat-faced dogs’ health problems for the sake of animal welfare, said British Veterinary Association (BVA) President Gudrun Ravetz on BBC Radio 4’s Today.

Talking on the programme about the health and welfare issues faced by flat-faced or brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, French bulldogs and British bulldogs, the BVA President made it clear that what is seen as “normal” and cute for these dogs, such as snorting and snuffling, is in reality a result of debilitating respiratory problems due to the squashed faces that have made them the dogs du jour. The problems are so severe that many of these dogs suffer breathing difficulties even when doing day-to-day activities like walking or eating.

Today also outlined a recent Kennel Club report showed that all flat-faced breeds have experienced a huge boom in popularity recently, with the French bulldog soon set to be the most popular breed in the UK. They also highlighted that media, advertising and celebrity owners have helped drive the appeal of, and increase the demand for these breeds.

Following the interview Gudrun said:

“We shouldn’t be buying and breeding dogs on the way we want them to look - it should always be about prioritising welfare above appearance. These are breeds that can suffer just by walking around or eating, which is why we’re calling on the media and advertisers to stop using them in their adverts. It is also difficult to turn on the TV, check Instagram or see a celebrity photo without also seeing a brachycephalic breed so it’s not surprising that demand for these dogs is rising.

“And we would also encourage anyone considering getting a brachycephalic breed to speak to their local vet and think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead.”

Good Neighbour is part of Provident’s company value of lending a helping hand to those who need it. This year, the programme has awarded funding to projects including assistance dogs charities, vocational training projects, youth clubs and autism communication groups.

Projects nominate themselves by visiting A panel of judges will then select three finalists which are then subject to a public vote. The winner will receive £2000. There is also funding of £750 and £500 for the first and second runners up respectively.

Provident’s Home Credit Director, Andy Parkinson, said of the campaign:

“Our Good Neighbour Programme is all about recognising projects and organisations, no matter how small, which bring about positive changes in their communities. Provident agents have always worked closely within the communities in which we operate, and we see first-hand the importance of community spirit.”

Nominations can be submitted by anyone, whether they are part of the charity or an outside supporter.