Social responsibility – a growing business priority. It always has been at Clearbell
We are now in a time where businesses must be proactive not just about putting the environment first, but also be considerate about the local community. At Clearbell, this has long been our strategy.
As a business with various assets dotted across the UK, we fundamentally understand the importance of ensuring that our tenants feel part of the community, whilst also ensuring locals have a chance to engage with our assets in as many ways as possible. Equally, we know that occupiers increasingly want buildings that not only reflect their values, but also encourage social activity.
Across Clearbell’s property portfolios, we are seeking to support local communities in a variety of different ways. Below are just a few examples that demonstrate this support throughout 2022.
The Garden at The Riverwalk
Located in Durham, The Riverwalk is a riverside retail and leisure destination in Durham city centre. “The Garden”, which was constructed in the summer in the centre of The Riverwalk, was created to encourage an environmentally focused hub for families to enjoy. Designed with several planters, including bee-friendly plants, the garden was used to host children’s face painting, live music from local musicians, an interactive animal story to inspire children to learn about wildlife and the natural world, a planting workshop and a local eco-friendly outdoor theatre group who performed a live show centred around climate change.
Local charities, social enterprises and retailers were also invited to use the space for community engagement and events. Our charity partner, St Cuthbert’s Hospice, hosted three separate fundraising events – all of which focused on community building and providing lettings for businesses who want to be a part of the community rather than change it.
Located in Coventry, this mixed-use site has embedded its cultural importance over the years, solidified by Coventry being the City of Culture in 2021.
Belgrade Plaza commits to events throughout the year including Easter, summer and Christmas initiatives focused on families and children. The Plaza has also attracted visits from the likes of Amazon’s “Treasure Truck” – a unique way to bring customers exciting deals directly to their neighbourhood with in-person pickups from quirky vehicles in various cities – who were keen to be part of this family community.
Additionally, Belgrade Plaza is also a popular filming location and has been central to many of the UK City of Culture announcements and several theatre shows, including Jack and the Beanstalk and Big Girls Don’t Cry.
Southampton student accommodation
Close to the port city of Southampton, our student accommodation works to ensure that students feel community within the university and in the wider city.
In Southampton, our charity initiatives continue to grow. Throughout the year, we’ve hosted events in-house to support residents, as well as promoting important awareness days. In May this year, the Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service use one of the vacant buildings for their fire drills and training. In September, we raised awareness for “Organic September”, “Youth Mental Health Day” and “World Suicide Prevention Day” – as well as “National Read a Book Day”, for which a small book swap library was introduced to encourage residents to take and share books. October saw promotions for Black History Awareness month and Breast Cancer Awareness.
St Vincent Street
At our Glasgow property on St Vincent Street – which we acquired in late 2021 – we have been welcoming the local community through a scheme called “Life with Art” to use the venue free of charge for an arts project over the last year. Our proposed redevelopment of this office building is still at the planning stage, so we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to using vacant space for the benefit of local people.
The Sloane Club
Originally acquired in October 2017 and located in central London, Sloane Club is home to nearly 3,000 members and boasts of a range of different facilities, including lounges, casual and formal dining.
Here, the Sloane Club has worked with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide job opportunities in the local community and create spaces for people seeking relevant advice. In June 2022, the club hosted the DWP Disability Confident Jobs Fair – a space to help claimants with diverse disabilities and health conditions across London and Essex. Separately, at the end of 2022, the club started working with Saira Hospitality Training School to provide work experience and opportunities to new hospitality graduates.
In conclusion, we understand the importance of our social responsibility and working with the communities of which our assets are a part. Yet there is a wider learning here: by creating a strong social strategy that puts the people first, businesses can enhance the value of their assets whilst ensuring it serves a purpose for the community that it serves.