It is no secret that schools across the UK have been underfunded to the point of exhaustion in the past decade. Many local authorities now have more children to look after with less money… whilst still supporting other vulnerable members of the community such as the at-risk or the elderly.
Therefore, it is more important than ever for local businesses to step up and support their community – after all these are your customers. Businesses that take the time to become an integral part of their community find that they experience amazing customer loyalty, brand recognition and growth when they are part of the local area.
How does a local business branch out into the community? Through local schools. Nelson Mandela said, “Children are the rock on which our future will be built” which is why it is crucial to give them the best possible guidance and support possible.
If you are wondering how to support a local school near you, no matter the size of your local business – keep reading.
Keep Communication Open
Believe it or not but many businesses and organisations within a local area or community are witness to more than many would believe. Outside of the school environment, some businesses see another side to children, or their lives compared to when they are in school. A small shop owner may see a child show less than ideal behaviour when with their parents, or they may encounter problems from a small group of individuals.
A small business may notice small things that may have passed a school by, or something that they are unaware about – which could improve the life or situation of a young person from the local community.
For example, one local bakery we have worked with in the past noticed a child coming in regularly with friends as they purchased something, and the child stood away quietly to the side. This child who was no older than 10 was skinny and quiet, with almost a grey tinge to his skin. One day the owners of the bakery decided to act and fed the boy when he came in with the group again – for free. They then went to the school of the child and informed them of their concerns that there was something that should be investigated.
Upon investigation it was found that at home there were some severe issues of neglect where the boy had not been fed properly consistently for a long time. It turns out things were so bad he was told the pecking order at home went as follows; Mum, Stepdad, Siblings, the Dog then him.
This highlights how important it is for a local business to keep communication channels open with local schools. Do not be afraid to get in touch with a school if any staff or small business owners encounter any problems, or safeguarding issues. In this instance without this small bakery, that child’s neglect may not have been picked up on.
Keeping channels of communication open through a dedicated school liaison contact also gives schools the chance to approach a business should they need any help or assistance with anything in their remit – it is a two-way street!
Outreach into the Local Community
A local business that is plugged into the needs and issues surrounding their area can really help them develop a strong and loyal brand base, especially with schools. Getting involved activities and other events allows a business the form a link with young customers from an early age, increase brand recognition and increases the chances of having a longer lasting clientele compared to other brands.
Keeping in touch with a school allows a business to throw events or fundraisers for a school if they are working towards a similar goal or aim. Holding these types of community-based events including stalls at school open days gives parents a unique chance to interact with your brand in a way they normally would not – and potentially lead to a new customer.
Apprenticeships & Job Opportunities
Offering jobs and apprenticeships are an amazing way for a business to build links and connections with those from the local community. Rather than searching for those to fill a role from outside the area, looking within the local talent pool allows businesses to cultivate and mould workers by getting schools and students involved in the work process.
Working with a community-based ethos and nurturing groups across the area also subconsciously demonstrates that a brand cares about their customers and are much more than a service.
Ask yourself, would you prefer to use a small community focussed business, or a big soulless conglomerate?
Providing children and students with roles within a company and industry can also give the vulnerable and at-risk opportunities that they may not have chance to access otherwise if they were based further afield. This gives businesses across all sectors a unique chance to help train them or provide them with skills that they may not get in a school setting such as construction, marketing, or labour.
Provide Students with Information
Not every business has the manpower or potential to push into a school setting or establish themselves in the ways listed above for various reasons, but that does not mean that there is nothing they can do.
School do not have enough hours in the day to teach children about everything, especially considering that every child learns differently. One avenue a business could consider is providing crucial information on hot topics to children through social responsibility. A hot topic is an area or issue that could impact an individual’s life in a negative way such as bullying, domestic violence or road safety.
Local businesses can provide schools with resources created by experts on a host of topics that could impact school children nationwide. These are materials that can be taken away by children and accessed in their own time – so they do not feel pressured into taking in potentially sensitive information in front of their peers.
Find out more about how these bespoke and interactive materials can help improve a child’s life in and out of school by speaking to one of our Educational Safety Officers today. Whether you know which topic is affecting your local area or not, there is always something that can be done to benefit the local community.
Has your business taken the time to assist their local community in any way? What would you do to assist schools in your area? Share your thoughts with us on social media and together we can help keep students and children as safe as possible.