With only 11 days left until Christmas, streets that until recently were sparse and drab with winter gloom are now transformed. People stride around with rolls of wrapping paper, tinsel glints in shop windows, and gingerbready aromas waft down Cheapside. It’s a unique time when the City community is even closer than normal.
Our minds turn to things other than work: time off, seeing family, leaving London. For many people, it’s also the time of year when we think most about charity.
Many newspapers, including, I am happy to say, City A.M., run charitable appeals, and in fact the City itself has always been a particularly philanthropic place, with many of its buildings and institutions funded by great philanthropists of the past. The City Corporation has its own charity, the City Bridge Trust, which last year gave away £20m to community groups and charities across London. Since its establishment in 1995, the Trust has awarded hundreds of millions of pounds to over 7,000 diverse charities. At the City Bridge Trust’s last board meeting, for example, they agreed 24 different grants worth a combined £2.5m, supporting causes as varied as counselling for refugees and physiotherapy for stroke survivors.
Each lord mayor also runs a Lord Mayor’s Appeal, focusing on causes with which they have a personal connection. I have chosen two charities, both of which, in their own way, help young people overcome obstacles and reach their potential. The first is the type 1 diabetes charity, JDRF, and the second is the Sea Cadets. Throughout 2016, I will hold events to raise money for and awareness of these two wonderful charities. I will also have the privilege of hosting the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards, which rewards the best corporate social responsibility, and City Giving Day, which recognises businesses and employees that volunteer their time or money to support the communities in which they operate.
These are showpiece events, but just as effective are the ongoing, everyday commitments that provide the lifeblood for charities all over London, the UK and even the world.
Payroll giving is one way to support a charity in a simple, sustainable and tax-efficient way. The City Corporation is again running the “give your last hour” campaign this year, which encourages employees to give the last hour of their pay in 2015 to charity. Many employers offer similar payroll schemes, so see if you could have the opportunity to contribute.
If you want the chance to volunteer, or to set up a corporate social responsibility programme for your business, then the City of London Corporation can provide support. Our City Action team assists employees who want to volunteer, and Heart of the City helps small businesses with their corporate social responsibility programmes. City Philanthropy also encourages and supports a new generation of ethical workers. If you’ve been meaning to do more for a while, make it your New Year’s resolution this year – and however you spend the next few weeks, may I wish you all a very merry Christmas.