Local businesses and communities
I have often spoken about the need for businesses to become more involved with, and support, the communities in which they are based. That is why I was so pleased to recently address a seminar at the Waitrose HQ organised by Involve, a local charity that supports other local charities and community groups throughout Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Borough. One way it does this is to bring together industry with local charities and community groups to explore ways in which they can collaborate.
We are very fortunate in Bracknell. Many companies have spoken with me about the schemes they have in place to allow their staff to take time off from work to undertake voluntary activities. Of course, our largest private sector employer, Waitrose, also has a long and proud record of community engagement, with staff in their local stores supporting groups in Bracknell, Crowthorne, and Sandhurst. Only last month Shepperlands Farm, a nature reserve on the far western edge of the constituency, benefited from a £1,000 donation from the John Lewis Reading Community Matters scheme.
Shepperlands Farm is managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), which also looks after Wildmoor Heath, about which I wrote last month. When I met BBOWT, they highlighted how difficult it is for them to continue managing these natural areas in an environment where grants from local authorities are being cut or even removed altogether. Furthermore, with all the extra burdens being put on government, both local and national, this is going to be a continuing trend.
People do not want, and most cannot afford, to pay more taxation. And there is a strong justification for spending the tax that is raised on essential public services, rather than donating it to charities that (inevitably) not everyone will support. But the reverse side of that coin is that we, both individuals and corporations, have to be more willing to become members, or give our time, or make donations to support those charities and community groups that we feel strongly about.
Maundy Thursday, which will be marked this week, has become associated in this country with a custom dating back to King Edward I where the Monarch offering “alms” to deserving senior citizens, one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign’s age. This year, if funds allow after the Easter Eggs, please, consider supporting one of the local charities that are working so hard to improve people’s lives in our area.