Football for the community! London’s responsible businesses are working towards a better, fairer society

Andrew Parmley
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Arsenal in the Community has helped over one million people since it started in 1985, using football as a hook to inspire individuals of all backgrounds and ages (Source: Getty)

In 1988, the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards – London’s most prestigious accolades for responsible business – were celebrated for the very first time.

Since then, we have recognised the fantastic work of hundreds of the capital’s firms that are doing their utmost to tackle social issues and support London’s communities.

Last week, I had the honour of spending the evening with some of these firms as we celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of this special initiative.

Read more: The business responsibility charity that helps firms give back to society

Over the last 30 years, the Awards’ applicants have helped over 11m Londoners, mobilising over 200,000 business volunteers and providing financial and in-kind support totalling more than £200m.

These figures speak for themselves. They are proof of the great job many businesses are doing to go beyond their day to day work, and really make use of their resources and expertise to make a tangible difference to society.

This year, we saw a huge variety of winners – from sports clubs to legal firms, financial services organisations to recruitment agencies, and SMEs to large corporations.

These organisations are showing that being a responsible business is no longer simply about engaging with local communities, but about supporting their own workforce and creating a better and fairer society as a whole.

Thousands of Londoners have benefitted because of the efforts and contributions of some of the capital’s businesses.

Astonishingly, this year’s applicants supported 800,000 people, creating over 13,000 jobs and investing over £11m in their communities and local enterprises.

Some winners had programmes that had been running for years, with very impressive impact figures and reach.

Others were new and showing huge potential to make a real difference – be it economically or socially.

For example, the Lord Mayor’s Award was won by Arsenal FC for Arsenal in the Community – a community programme in Islington, Camden and Hackney, where coaches are working with over 5,000 people across 150 venues each week. The programme has helped over one million people since it started in 1985, using football as a hook to inspire individuals of all backgrounds and ages.

Impact Creative Recruitment, an SME based in Hackney, won the Heart of the City Award for its Future Proofing Through Diversity initiative, which works to open up new opportunities in the creative and media industries to people from diverse backgrounds. Impact Creative’s own workforce is now 10 per cent more diverse, and it has increased the diversity of the candidates it places with clients by 12 per cent.

These are great achievements and I hope this work will strive forward and have an even greater impact in the coming years.

Responsible businesses can and are playing a leading role in tackling social issues, enhancing communities and making change happen.

I hope the inspiring work of this year’s winners will encourage more firms in London and the UK to follow suit and, if they are not already doing so, to see what they can do to really play their part and make a difference to society.

Read more: The City of London has elected its 690th Lord Mayor

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles