Seaham company owner launches new community foundation

The GF (Groves Family) Community Foundation, a new charity restoring hope and support across the North East, has been launched, with a commitment to employing local people to make a difference within their communities.

Spearheaded by CEO and Chairman of Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) Brad Groves, the GF Community Foundation has been created to address key social issues in four areas across County Durham and Sunderland.

The Foundation will invest in local people to revive communities by restoring hope, encouraging people to make positive changes and reignite community spirit.

Key areas in the North East which the Foundation will operate, selected personally by the Chief Executive, are:

  • East Durham
  • Seaham
  • Spennymoor
  • Hetton & Easington Lane

The Foundation will also support projects within The Coalfield Regeneration areas (Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring and Shiney Row) and Haswell and District Mencap.

These areas all share common socio-economic challenges which the Foundation will address, such as high unemployment and lower levels of opportunities.

The charity will support three target demographics: children & young people, the elderly & vulnerable and families, with five key delivery strands:

  • Access to Sport, Health & Wellbeing programmes
  • Investing in community events
  • Supporting education and employment opportunity
  • Not-for-profit organisation support
  • Dedicated grant and awards scheme

Brad Groves, CEO and Chairman of Great Annual Savings Group, said: “I’m delighted to launch the GF Community Foundation, taking action to support the proud people keen to see action taken to revive our North East towns and villages”.

“As a region, we have been hit extremely hard by the pandemic, on top of issues that already exist in areas once built around mining and heavy industry. We are now seeing the detrimental impact this is having on our communities, to which I hold strong, personal affiliations.

I believe it is the duty of those who can offer support to do so, and this is where The GF Community Foundation vision comes to life.

Work has already started in our communities, and I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact that the Foundation will have on those who need our help most.”

To address these issues and support the delivery of the programme, the Foundation is on target to recruit 14 new colleagues over the next three months.

New Foundation roles include the appointment of a Group Foundation Manager, Fundraising and Events Manager, a Business Development team, Group Maintenance Technician, four Community Impact Managers, and four apprentices who will be deployed within each of the key areas to establish an ‘on-the-ground’ presence for the Foundation.

To help communicate key messages to communities, residents and stakeholders, the Foundation will recruit a Social Influence and Content team in the coming weeks, in addition to an apprenticeship scheme to help the region’s young people into employment. Across the Group from September 2021 we aim to bring in 50 -100 apprentices on a yearly basis.

Appointments follow the GAS Group’s ongoing recruitment efforts across the UK, which sees the number of people directly employed within the Group rise to over 400. Since March 2021, GAS have taken on 40 new colleagues, and within the next 12 months aim to take on another 200. This will generate further substantial funding due to not only 100% of GAS colleagues contributing to the salary sacrifice scheme “Give As You Earn” (GAYE) but also significant fundraising activities which saw them raise £100k+ each year pre Covid.

The implementation of The GF Community Foundation has been brought to life through the recruitment of a dedicated Group Foundation Manager Tom Lavender, and work is being delivered with the support of over 35 primary stakeholders across the North East.

Tom said: “I’m really excited that today marks the soft launch of The GF Community Foundation.

“A new foundation truly embedded in the community does not simply spring up on launch day, so a crucial part of introducing the programme has been the building of relationships and establishing a presence within the local communities, which is why the employment of four new Community Impact Managers is so important.

“From existing charities, sporting clubs, community facilities, politicians, and relevant councils, it’s vital we provide a cohesive and transparent approach to all from the get-go.

“We’re here to support the existing work taking place, and all of the efforts to date fit with our delivery strands, which sets up the Foundation to deliver maximum social impact across the region.”

Brad Groves’ group of companies already holds a strong CSR footprint, raising in excess of £300,000 for selected corporate charities across the North East since the launch of its fundraising strategy in 2017.

In addition to financial support, the Foundation has also already cemented its commitment to employability and investing in people, recruiting a catering assistant from ELCAP’s bank of volunteers to work at Great Annual Savings new £3m Sea View HQ in Seaham.

Looking ahead, from 2022 the challenge is to bring a minimum of £1m+ investment per annum into the Foundation, in addition to a roll-out of the Foundation model across the North East, UK & Ireland which in turn will create many more direct and indirect employment opportunities.