In the spring of 2014 Les Nutter was approached by the Head of Fundraising at Rossendale Hospice and invited to help set up and chair a Corporate Ambassadors Group for the Hospice. This was the Hospice’s first attempt to pro-actively reach out to the wider business community in Rossendale.

We were able to use our business connections and work with the Hospice to establish a list of business leaders to invite and the first meeting was held in the autumn of 2014. The group set out its objectives of using local businesses to further raise awareness of the Hospice within the wider community of Rossendale and consequently to raise funds. Rossendale Hospice has annual costs of £750,000 and contracts / Government funding of £255,000, leaving a funding gap of £495,000 for which the Hospice relies on the generosity of local individuals, businesses and organisations.

Cassons’ Les Nutter (managing partner) and Jill Murray (head of marketing) are both members of the Corporate Ambassadors Group (CAG) and have been instrumental in helping drive these objectives.

ZipwireSpecific projects that have been undertaken include the “Zipwire Challenge” which involved 7 teams of 4 people from 6 companies who were sponsored to take on the challenge of Europe’s longest zipwire. The overall project raised over £9,000. Team Cassons comprised Michael Beal, Nick Gardner, Simon Read and  Lexi Hamer. Les Nutter also took part!

The CAG is very keen to use business strengths to speak to the wider community and a concept was developed which would connect businesses with school groups.  Year 10 pupils would be mentored, gaining enterprising and entrepreneurial skills whilst raising money for Rossendale Hospice.

This was the birth of the Youth Enterprise Challenge (YEC). A working group of 3 was set up, with Alison Whittaker-Stewart, Marketing & Corporate Development Manager at the Hospice, Tony Garner, Director at Viva PR and Jill working to bring this project to fruition.

It culminated in 6 teams from 5 Hospice 1secondary schools in Rossendale each being given £50 from their CAG business mentor.  The idea was to invest the money and use it to raise as much money as possible.

At the YEC Launch Event on 9 November 2015 groups from each school were paired with their business mentors, all members of the CAG. With the support of their mentor, the school teams then worked on their projects to raise as much money as possible. There were also three other awards up for grabs to recognise outstanding teamwork, involvement with the local community and the most innovative fundraising idea.

The YEC culminated in a Celebration Event which took place on Tuesday 12 January 2016 when the results were announced. The overall project raised a staggering £8181.42 but more than that, it generated enormous goodwill from the schools and their communities towards the projects and the Hospice itself. There is no doubt that the YEC will be run again next year!

Cassons’ Joanne Halsall and Simon Read mentored All Saints Catholic High school, which won the award for the best team work. Joanne and Simon  had several meetings with the school, helping them develop their ideas and keep tight control of their finances. The group also visited Cassons premises, which for many pupils was the first insight into how a company operates. The group organised a Christmas fair, challenging each form to run a stall to make as much money as possible.  There were games, face and nail painting, lots of cakes and homemade cosmetics to name but a few.  As they wanted to build their cash fund in advance of their Christmas fair, Cassons had supported them by holding our own “non uniform” day.

Joanne, Simon, Les and Jill attended the school’s Christmas fair and took part in the activities! A strong link has now been forged between Cassons and All Saints School, one that both parties are keen to maintain. The head teacher and several of the teaching staff explained that the YEC and the involvement with a local business had ignited real enthusiasm amongst some of the pupils.

Cassons will continue to work closely with the Hospice’s fundraising team and the CAG to develop new ideas of working with the local business community in the hope the Hospice’s message will be transmitted to as many of the Rossendale population as possible.  The CAG now has a regular attendance at its meeting every two months from the leaders of 14 businesses in the valley.  An objective for 2016 is to extend this to more of the larger businesses in Rossendale.

One initiative already in the pipeline is a payroll giving scheme. Cassons have carried out the research and produced the literature for this project which it is hoped will be communicated to all of the businesses and their employees in the Rossendale valley.

Over 150 hours of Cassons time was given to the Hospice and its projects during 2015 and this is set to continue in 2016, with the plan also to involve more of the Cassons team in the coming 12 months.

We are very proud to be gold Corporate Partners of Rossendale Hospice and you can read more here about the wonderful work they carry out in the Rossendale area.