Bank manager has notched up the first six months of his year as a Business Connector.
And he admits: “It’s been an eye-opener.”
Jonathan has been seconded from his job as a manager with the Halifax to take up the role of Business Connector for Huddersfield – providing the link between charities and community groups in need of support and private sector organisations that can help them achieve their aims.
It’s part of a national scheme run by Business in the Community – one of the Prince of Wales’ charities.
Jonathan says the scheme is vital in an environment of public sector cutbacks to help charities and community groups get the advice to help them stand on their own two feet and by truly sustainable.
A busy six months has seen Jonathan help to get private sector support for a host of projects.
Among them, he has helped mental health charity Mencap extend its Safe Places scheme to Marks & Spencer at Waterloo, Asda at Bradley and Ruddi’s Retreat Cafe at Linthwaite. Organisation taking part in the scheme display a sticker showing where vulnerable people out in the community can go there if they feel threatened, frightened or upset.
Jonathan has also forged links between the Welcome Centre and Greggs to arrange for the bakery chain to donate bread and cakes left unsold at the end of the working day to the centre’s food bank.
Another food bank – in the Holme Valley – has been provided with space by Locala at Holme Valley Memorial Hospital to prepare its food parcels – following a four-fold increase in the number of food parcels compared to a year ago.
Jonathan has also worked with Sharing Memories in Holmfirth, which helps elderly people recall memories through painting. Thorough his efforts, a book featuring their art work is now on sales at Waterstone’s.
Among other projects, Howdens Joinery at Lockwood and Turnbridge-based engineering firm Cummins Turbo Technologies provided furniture and equipment for an IT suite at Beechwood Cheshire Home, Edgerton.
In another tie-up, 40 volunteers from the HR department at United Utilities in Sheffield helped Friends of Beaumont Park with the gardening at the eight-acre beauty spot.
Alpha Marking Services, of Linthwaite, volunteered time and materials to white-line the car park at The Nerve Centre while Kirklees Rape and Sexual Assault Counselling Centre has benefited from help with its IT system and the fitting of door locks on its consultation rooms.
Jonathan has helped source funding and volunteer help for local schools and matched organisations with experts in areas such as IT, marketing and HR.
Current schemes include extending the Community Shop initiative, which sells food at 30% of the normal retail price for people on means-tested benefits and develop a cookery school and cafe where people can learn about recipes that make the most of the food they can afford to buy.
Jonathan is also working with charity Making Space to make Meltham into a “dementia-friendly” village and is helping One Good Turn to build up a “bank” of men’s suits which will be available for long-term unemployed people to wear when attending job interviews.
Said Jonathan: “I’m continuing to help small charities that would not get much help otherwise.
“A lot of charities are also looking for trustees. While there are significant responsibilities, it is a terrific opportunity to get involved for people who have the relevant skills.”
Jonathan’s job entails meeting businesses and charities, making introductions – and dealing with unusual requests.
“One charity asked if I could find them a caravan and another was enquiring about how to look after pigs,” he said.
“It’s been a real eye-opener to what is going on out there.
“There’s an enormous among of good being done in Huddersfield.”