In this weeks Leading the Way blog, we share some of how Bristow & Sutor adds social value to the communities it engages with and why donating both funds and equipment to charities is something we remain committed to.
How does Bristow & Sutor choose who to support?
At Bristow & Sutor we are always keen to support a worthy cause and remain on the lookout for charities that make an impact within the communities we engage with. Economic, social and environmental well-being is a key aspect of collections and enforcement activity and the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic has only strengthened our resolve. Most recently, as part of our ongoing support of our client Portsmouth City Council, we have made donations to community-driven charities on the south coast.
Portsmouth City Council enlists Bristow & Sutor EAs for the provision of services related to road traffic debts and predominantly target the collection of outstanding parking and bus lane fines. Enforcement will also be integral to the introduction of a new Clean Air Zone coming to Portsmouth in 2022, which will see Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) issued to non-compliant vehicles. We are proud to be a supplier to Portsmouth City Council and remain committed to adding social value to every community that we engage with.
Who are some recent beneficiaries of this approach?
Stop Domestic Abuse is an innovative and unique provider of all services related to those affected by domestic abuse. The charity protects and works with victims, but also engage with perpetrators, the police and many other organisations. We have initially donated £500, which will immediately help towards supporting sheltering residents in local refuge accommodation. Women and children often arrive at refuge with little or no possessions and can often feel traumatised due to their experiences of domestic abuse. Many of the women in refuge rely on benefits and have no disposable income to go on days out to attractions, so our donation will allow families to have a well-deserved, fun-filled day out at a local attraction.
We have also donated boxes of PPE equipment to employees at both Stop Domestic Abuse and also Advice Portsmouth, for use when they are providing face to face guidance and when difficult but important conversations need to take place. Advice Portsmouth is a branch of AdviceUK, the UK’s largest network of independent advice services. The charity provides support to front-line centres and agencies that offer independent social welfare and legal advice to those in need.
Earlier this year, our staff took part in the Steps for StepChange initiative, raising funds and awareness during Debt Awareness Week (DAW) by walking a combined 3,761,488 steps and promoting useful links and direction towards helpful related advice. Over Christmas, we donated £5,000 to the Trussell Trust, who support a nationwide network of over 1,200 food banks and provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. Many Bristow & Sutor employees live in the midlands and provided bags of food and supplies to help their local food banks cope throughout the festive period.
Why is encouraging conversations so important?
Every Bristow & Sutor enforcement agents (EAs), formerly known as bailiffs, possess masks, hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, disinfectant sprays and gloves as standard and must pass an industry approved course before being allowed to conduct visits. We have worked very hard as a business to offer multiple channels for making contact, but we quickly realised during the coronavirus lockdowns just how important it remains to facilitate face-to-face conversations and what a difference this can make. Speaking in person often increases peoples understanding, commitment to repayment plans and most importantly, aids with the identification of those who are facing vulnerable circumstances.
Bristow & Sutor has a long history of successfully supporting vulnerable people in conjunction with both the Debt Advice sector and Local Authorities. We always encourage debtors to speak to us or to access free impartial debt advice as soon as they identify a problem and will continue to share this message whenever possible. Our EAs are often the first to identify a vulnerable person when they pay a visit and speak to them. Without these conversations, many people would continue to struggle and could end up in worse positions than they already find themselves in. As a result, we have regularly supplied PPE boxes to local authority and clients and independent services such as Citizens Advice Bureau throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, to help ensure debtors maintain access to impartial advice at all times.
Beyond the impact externally, supporting worthy causes is also morale-boosting for our staff and it is always nice to hear what a difference a donation has made. Knowing we have helped facilitate positive change for people in the local community is a key driving factor for many of our people. Bristow & Sutor continues to explore further ideas and solutions around adding social value to client and customer communities, remaining steadfast in our mission of being Cool, Calm and Collected.