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Your Voice – Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation

The latest Your Voice feature, giving LBV members a platform for their views on the current business landscape in Leicester.

Katy Green is CEO at Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation, which sets up and manages affordable local grant-giving funds for families, individuals, companies, national funders, and the public sector. They give grants, with and for donors, to hundreds of vital local charitable groups that help keep our communities thriving.

How can businesses benefit from working with the Community Foundation?

We offer a straightforward, knowledgeable, and affordable way to support local charities, and through them, our local communities.

Local charitable groups help make our area a better place to live, work and do business. They are often ‘under the radar’ so people can feel unsure about supporting them. We reach out to groups all over Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. We report back to donors and funders. We look after admin, Gift Aid claims and charitable reporting.

We give grants to groups working with all needs; food banks, homelessness support and debt advice; mental and physical health care from postnatal depression to cancer to dementia support; activities for adults with learning difficulties, mums and tots, or elderly people; sports clubs, the arts, counselling, training, and employment access, play for children, and more.

Grant-giving to those supporting our local communities is a form of social and economic investment; you’re helping build a confident population and a flourishing city.

What are the key strengths of Leicester?

  • Self-respect: everyone I meet, from the largest business to the smallest playgroup, from creatives to executives, born here or landed here (like me) seems proud of Leicester.
  • Talent and potential: three world-class universities, some great schools and colleges, a police force which seems to do much better than many, hundreds of well-run charitable groups doing quietly important work to manage the cost-of-living crisis, local businesses creating a truly wide range of goods and services. There’s a lot going on here.
  • Diversity: we are a future-facing city.

Ways in which Leicester can support the business community

  1. Better communication between private, public and charitable sectors. Often it feels each is following its own agenda, even when those agendas link. We’re all in it together, trying to make Leicester better known and better off.
  2. Better transport. As many routes as possible should have a lane for pedestrians (yellow like New Walk) a lane for bikes (green) a lane for buses (red) and one for cars (black tarmac). They don’t have to be super wide, and we might look stripy, but we’d get around better. Right now, bus and bike lanes stop and start randomly and are different colours, people cycle anywhere at whatever speed they like, use the car for tiny urban distances, and public transport is patchy and expensive. It’s not good for business. Or anyone.

What are the biggest opportunities for businesses in Leicester right now?

I think managing those strengths intelligently: the self-respect, the talent and potential, the diversity. Easy said, harder done, but the best leaders do it.

What are the biggest challenges?

The cost-of-living crisis. It’s hitting most of us, but in some of our communities and families, it’s hitting much harder. Poverty creates a long, cold, incapacitating shadow. Almost all the human challenges our donors give grants to help improve are caused or worsened by poverty.

Recruitment. I worry about the narratives that you can do anything if you just want it hard enough, that the best jobs are the jobs other people think are glamorous, and that exam results are of paramount importance. Ambition, appreciation, the ability to read, write and concentrate are all immensely valuable. But satisfying work takes many forms, and so does ability. Our young people need to know that.

Increasing use of technology for customer interface. One of the best things about Leicester is the dominance of SMEs which means we keep our people skills honed. Let’s keep it that way.

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