Case study: Giving back to a community
Strategic CSR initiatives make total sense on a host of levels – from social and community, to team and commercial. They’re not a fluffy addition – in today’s world they’re a strategic must-have. But they need to have purpose, and should be integrated into a holistic whole with the business, its aspirations and its brand values.
Entrepreneur Darren Ridge had a passion for an initiative which was personally motivated and which the Polymedia team ensured delivered for the Onecom brand as well.
Darren founded Onecom, a leader in business-to-business telecommunications and the largest independent provider of its kind in the UK. Polymedia has supported the Darren and the business, throughout its growth regionally and through a series of acquisitions that created a national powerhouse connecting businesses through fixed line, mobile and business technology.
Darren came from humble beginnings and wanted to give something back to the area he grew up, to the school he went to growing up – now renamed Havant Academy and to the children who might be inspired by his story.
Polymedia developed a project that not only achieved that aim, but also supported the profile and reputation of Onecom as a leader in technology and a major local employer.
‘Predict the Future’ was the challenge set for pupils – asking them for their ideas for devices or applications powered by Internet of Things technology, using connected devices for societal good. Polymedia worked with Havant Academy to ensure the programme would complement the curriculum.
The students’ ideas were developed over several weeks, with mentors from Onecom paying regular visits to see updates on progress and mentor the students. The campaign culminated with a Dragons Den-style presentation, where pupils pitched ideas from smart bins that reminded users to recycle, and food tracking apps that reduced waste, to Darren and an expert panel. Prizes including mini drones and Samsung phones were handed to participants.
The project was an incredibly positive experience for students in a deprived area. In the Leigh Park area, where the Academy is based, 68% of the students come from broken families and 50% of the children never leave the immediate area.
The challenge not only benefited the students, who learned about product development and business pitching, but also supported one of Onecom’s key aims – building relationships with local schools and raising its profile with young people, in support of its recruitment goals.
The Head of School at Havant Academy said: “The competition has created a huge buzz. It’s shown how somebody from a background similar to our students can go on to achieve great success through hard work and innovation.
“The pupils are delighted with their prizes, and have learned a great deal through this project about technology, business and the process of pitching.”
The event sparked a fruitful relationship between the Academy, Onecom and Darren, who went on to launch a new charitable fund, The Ridge Foundation, to help children and young people from challenging backgrounds to reach their full potential.
The event sparked a fruitful relationship between the Academy and Onecom.
Darren went on to launch a new charitable fund, The Ridge Foundation, to help children and young people from challenging backgrounds to reach their full potential.