Community Stories

Forterra Community Fund Q&A with Helen Newberry

The Forterra Community Fund is an exciting new scheme that gives charities, clubs, groups and societies the opportunity to apply for funding for educational, environmental and charitable projects that make a positive contribution to their local community. Here, we ask the scheme organiser, Forterra’s Head of Communications Helen Newberry, about the fund and the application process, and why supporting communities and charities is important to the business.

Q. Why was the Forterra Community Fund set up?
A. Forterra has always supported charitable endeavours, but we wanted to formalise the process of applying for funds without making it complicated. As well as making the process of applying for funding simpler, it also makes it easier for us to spread the word about the fund’s existence and to promote worthwhile causes.

Q. Why is it important for companies like Forterra to give back to communities?
A. It’s important for lots of reasons. Running a business, particularly a manufacturing business like ours, can have an impact on the communities around it in all sorts of ways, from traffic flow to employment opportunities. It’s essential to us, therefore, that we are able to foster good relationships with all our neighbours so we can have positive, two-way discussions.

As many of the communities surrounding our factories are small, and lots of their inhabitants are also our employees, we are more likely to have happier and more fulfilled employees if we are engaged and contributing in ways that will help these communities thrive.

Q. What kinds of charities does Forterra support?
A. We support a range of charities from local to national. It’s partly why we established the Forterra Community Fund to make it easier for local charities in particular, to ask us for support. We also encourage employees to participate in fundraising or volunteering for charities that are perhaps important to them personally – we match any employee fundraising up to a maximum of £500.

We also engage with charities on a more structured, company-wide scale. Our employees recently voted Mind as our corporate charity. The benefit of supporting a charity on a corporate level is really two way: in addition to raising funds for Mind through regular activities and events throughout the year, it is also helping us to draw attention to the important issue of looking after mental health in the workplace. Over the last year, we have trained 60 volunteer mental health first aiders from across all areas of our business to provide a point of contact for colleagues who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress.

Q. Who can apply to the Forterra Community Fund
A. Applications are welcomed from charities, clubs, groups and societies who are looking for either monetary support or a donation of our products for educational, environmental and charitable projects that make a positive contribution to their local community.

Q. How does the application process work?
A. It’s very simple. We have created a dedicated webpage with a link to an online form, which asks for information about how the funding will be used. The Forterra Community Fund panel meets on a monthly basis throughout the year to discuss any applications that have been received during the month prior. All applications will be carefully considered but, unfortunately, we cannot guarantee they will all be successful.

Q. How else does Forterra support communities?
A. Lots of our people are volunteers for local community groups and participate in or organise charity events. In 2020, we ran the Community Awards to recognise the community activities our employees had been engaged in during the first, challenging wave of the pandemic. Activities ranged from delivering Easter eggs to local care homes to delivering much needed PPE and remote computer equipment for GPs carrying out home visits to suspected Covid-19 patients.

More recently we’ve been out litter picking; cleaning ‘Red Bank corner’ in Measham, which was named in honour of our local factory; and our Hoveringham plant recently got in touch with me to say they are donating kerb stones, which they’ve been manufacturing out of our waste concrete mix, to the local village so they can help introduce new safety measures to a nearby car park.