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May 2020

Keeping society moving during the coronavirus outbreak

Our £500,000 emergency community fund is helping charities and organisations across the UK by supporting the elderly and vulnerable and keeping communities together

Our aim is to build a better society. And we’ve already made some great steps, from investing in later-living community housing to long-term clean energy solutions. But with the Covid-19 pandemic, our society and the communities within it are struggling more than ever.

So far we have donated £50,000 to the Sun’s appeal for NHS charities, £50,000 to Royal Voluntary Service and have increased our match-funding limit for individual employees from £500 per year to £5,000, for charities related to or affected by Covid-19. Infrastructure in which we have invested is also playing its part: we have provided distribution space, training space and parking spaces for NHS workers across our Bracknell town centre development, while the Alderley Park Bruntwood SciTech site in Cheshire, in which we have a 50% stake, is a key part of the UK’s Covid-19 testing efforts.

But as well as supporting the nationwide effort, we wanted to help individual communities. So we launched an emergency community fund of £500,000 for charities and voluntary groups all over the UK. We received an incredible 600+ applications and are supporting a variety of organisations. Here is a glimpse of what just some of the beneficiaries are doing to support society’s most vulnerable through the crisis. 

Bringing care to those who need it most

We know that our health and social care systems are already stretched, but some organisations are reducing pressure on the NHS during this critical time. One of these is the Health Bus Trust, which provides a mobile healthcare facility, and access to mental health and addiction support, to rough sleepers in Bournemouth, working actively with the NHS to reduce the “revolving door” pattern of medical treatment for the homeless community. Another is St David’s Catholic Sixth Form College in Cardiff, which has donated more than 3,250 items of PPE, as well as using its on-site equipment to make more than 1,700 visors which have been donated to 75 locations, including Disney-themed visors for a local children’s hospital. 

Feeding the nation

We’ve all seen the problems faced by the food industry, from empty shelves in supermarkets to the job losses faced by millions in the hospitality sector. In north-west London, community hub Sufra has been delivering homemade meals and food bank items to those who can’t afford to panic buy and as a result are regularly running out of food. In nearby Barnet, the Community Network Group, which usually delivers education, training and social activities for Farsi and Iranians in the capital, is running a weekly food bank delivery service to 20 local elderly or disabled Iranians. At the opposite end of the UK, Scotland’s Bridgend Farmhouse has collaborated with the local Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts initiative: a team of recently-unemployed chefs, packers and distributors from the hospitality sector are making food and delivering it to vulnerable people locally.

Driving communities forward

As the UK population grows, its individual communities become increasingly important, offering a source of support and comfort to those who might otherwise be isolated from loved ones. But both Beverly Community Lift in East Yorkshire and Norwich Door to Door keep communities moving by offering transportation services to people with mobility issues, and during the pandemic both organisations have gone one step further. Norwich Door to Door has used its vehicles to transport PPE, while Beverly Community Lift is helping its customers with shopping and transportation to and from medical appointments.

Meanwhile, the Liverpool Irish Centre Merseyside, which usually unites the city’s Irish community with classes and events, is using its social media channels to keep its members communicating throughout the crisis, reducing any sense of community isolation.

Supporting the socially vulnerable

This period of uncertainty is scary for all of us, but there are some people who have come from a different type of fear. Oasis Cardiff supports refugees and asylum seekers, and throughout the pandemic has supported these individuals with food parcels, online support and mobile app access to activities and wellbeing checks. Meanwhile, Home-Start East Surrey has continued to support struggling families, from those dealing with isolation to those with parenting difficulties. One woman, for example, came to the charity from a history of domestic abuse; through the pandemic, the organisation is making weekly videos calls to the family, during which time volunteers offer to help the children with homework, and has provided foodbank vouchers for the family and a laptop for the elder children to help with their schoolwork.

Overseas efforts

Our support has been group-wide and there’s lots more going on beyond the UK. Legal & General Reinsurance (L&G Re) in Bermuda has launched the Lighthouse Connect initiative (part of its Lighthouse Project aimed at supporting Bermudian education initiatives), which, in partnership with the Mirrors Programme and Bermuda Community Foundation, will provide all Bermuda state school students with laptops. “The island will recover from this pandemic, but we need to make sure no student is left behind,” says Thomas Olunloyo, CEO of L&G Re.

In the United States, Legal & General Retirement America (LGRA) and Legal & General America (LGA) have launched a joint initiative that will match all employee donations. Funds will go towards Feeding America, which has a network of 200 food banks across the country, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) Foundation. “Together, we look to make a positive impact in a time when it’s needed most,” says George Palms, President of LGRA. “As always, I am personally thankful to our dedicated employees who feel a deep responsibility to do their part in serving our communities.”

Mark Holweger, President of LGA, adds: “Our focus from the beginning of this pandemic has been to look after our employees. Their wellbeing and health has been, and continues to be, our number-one priority. In that spirit, we wanted to give back to the community at large and support other American families. The CDC Foundation and Feeding America provide that opportunity.”

We wanted to give back to the community at large and support other American families. The CDC Foundation and Feeding America provide that opportunity”

Mark Holweger,
President, LGA

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Legal & General Investment Management America (LGIMA) has started a charity drive with proceeds going to the Chicago Covid-19 Response Fund, which helps to provide access to food, basic supplies and financial assistance for rent, mortgages and utilities. “We know that the key to success is working together for a better outcome,” says Nancy Gonzales, Head of Marketing at LGIMA. “From local businesses to first responders to support agencies, we are proud to assist our employees as they remind Chicagoans that we’re all in this together.”

Our goal of building a better society hasn’t changed. But with this crisis, society has found itself altered, and we all have a part to play in rebuilding communities that are struggling, and supporting the individuals within them. We’re proud to be in partnership with so many organisations, in the UK and beyond, each working hard to keep our society moving and, day by day, bringing us closer to a brighter future.  

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