When I started out on this amazing journey 12 months ago, I spoke a little of wanting to simply have some kind of legacy.
Without doubt, I’ve been overwhelmed by many kind words from several people that has led to me to know that the business connector role has made a difference to Hastings and to some extent, wider Rother.
In mid-December, I held what I called a ‘Seeing is believing’ event – a whole day where both guests from outside the area and local leaders of charities could reflect on many of the connections from across the year. It’s an unenviable task to try and pick out the best ones because there have been so many so I won’t go into specific connections here but rather focus on the areas of legacy that can and will continue to make a difference.
One of the best things I could have done and did so, I hope, with a good degree of success was to encourage and introduce individuals to the role of trustee. These people then become local champions for their chosen charity and in some cases have started connecting. Sara Lee Trust, The Seaview Project, Bridge Community Centre, Little Gate Farm and SEAP were all recipients of trustees that will have a lasting impact on those charities.
One event that really did make me proud, held some six months ago, was the Community Games sports day. With the help of Sport Inspired, we got 250 school children from 12 schools, 70 volunteers from one business, 20 FE student volunteers and eight different sports clubs all together in one venue for a single day’s competitive sport; there’s a local legacy piece here with more young people wanting to play sport with the associated benefits but equally, I’d hope that the event can become an annual one.
Engaging local business to support education initiatives is certainly an aspect that has made a difference and will continue to do so. I have been very pleased to work across a number of projects with the insurance firm, Hastings Direct. Yes, they are a large firm in the local economy but nevertheless, they do lead by example. By way of example, the recent Creative Café model pilot will, I am sure, prove to leave a legacy for replicating across other sectors.
I have chaired my final Own Grown steering group and again, have been proud to be associated with such a great initiative that is the envy of other areas. The project is in good hands and does need to secure some funding but I hope that local firms will continue to step forward and that local schools will continue to see the benefit for their young people to experience the world of work in many different guises.
And finally, I couldn’t complete this column without mentioning the WOW Exchange; the ‘live’ event in December went well, which brings us to four live events held across the county during the year facilitating more than 300 connections. Jan Cutting has been a super partner on this project and the website hopefully, serves to be a lasting legacy allowing for connections online available to anyone at any time…
So, what of the future? Business in the Community is committed to Hastings as a town and the plan is for another two years of business connector investment; the clock has now stopped and will start ticking again when the new connector starts at some time later in 2014. Lloyds Banking Group is equally committed to the business connector programme and is in the midst of fulfilling a promise to provide 60 connectors across a three year period, each for a 12 month term.
The journey has been emotional for sure; personally, by the time you read this I’ll have resumed a role back in banking. Not quite sure how I’ll cope with the culture change! I now join an elite group of the business connector alumni; once a connector always a connector… and to finish, here’s a quote from my ‘Seeing is believing’ day; not sure if this is how you see me but I like it a lot and can’t think of a better way to sign off… “A connector is a person who has the ability to span many different worlds, this is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability and energy.”
Ian Noble can be contacted at email@example.com or 07801 250668. You can follow on twitter @TN34Connector