Over the past year and a half, Xledger has formed a significant partnership with Bristol Sport. 2020 saw us sponsor the Ashton Gate South Stand, the Bears Academy, become Principle Partner to Bristol Flyers and pioneer a new internship programme to provide young people with experience in the workplace.
In a whirlwind of exciting new partnerships and subsequent announcements, Xledger’s Sales and Marketing Director, Ian Halliwell, takes the time to share why we are passionate about our association with Bristol Sport.
“There are many reasons for a corporation to get involved in local initiatives and ‘giving back’ by sponsoring community groups or associations. Yes, there are unquestionably brand awareness benefits by association, but getting a commercial partnership right relies on aligning two entities with a shared ethos and culture.
When I joined Xledger, the UK side of the business didn’t have a real identity or something that defined us. As a UK business with global roots in Scandinavia, there is the inherited culture from Norway; that being the work to live attitude, family focus and lots of ambition. But as our own brand, our own identity – there wasn’t one. So, I started thinking that Bristol is where we are, this is our own town, let’s be known as a great employer in Bristol because we’re associated with something that Bristol and the community are very proud of.
It didn’t take us long to realise that Bristol Sport would be a perfect fit. Bristol Sport promotes access to professional sport and participation in all sport across all ages and capabilities. It represents clubs and venues including Bristol City Football Club, Bristol Bears Rugby Club, Bristol Flyers Basketball, Bristol City Women’s Football, Bristol Bears Women and Ashton Gate Stadium. Its culture is hugely influential and positive, and despite being a commercial entity, it gives so much back to the local community.
It matched our own interests of wanting to invest in and support local people. All successful companies recognise that their most valuable asset are the people that they employ. To nurture our staff and to protect the future growth of the company, we strongly feel that it’s important to give everyone a reason to feel proud to work at Xledger. Our association with Bristol Sport was formed on our commitment to be inclusive, help drive opportunities for all ages and to help elevate Bristol as a dynamic and exciting place on the map. We want our ethos and behaviours to be something to be recognised by.”
If there is anything the last year has taught us, it is that supporting local charities and initiatives goes beyond a simple CSR checkbox exercise. Doing ‘our bit’ to support Bristol Sport has since taken on a whole new meaning. When the pandemic first hit – no sector was immune from the shock. But sports was one of the sectors that continued to suffer the knock-on effects of each lockdown, culminating in a year of disruption that made it near on impossible for Bristol Sport to deliver on its mission. Our unwavering support during the pandemic is our way of giving something back to the community more directly.
Our Bristol Bears Internship programme
Our sponsorship of the Bristol Bears Academy sees Xledger invest in youngsters aged 13 years upwards. Young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the pandemic –youth unemployment rose by 13% to 66,000. Therefore, 2020 seemed like the perfect time to launch a brand-new internship programme with the Bears.
We piloted the programme last year with our first intern, Harry Rowson, a member of the Bears scholarship programme and an aspiring accountant. The 2021/22 programme will see a further 13 scholars join.
The programme aims to develop the young Bears Academy players on and off the field. Professional sport is a dominant factor in the scholars’ lives, but in reality, very few players ‘make it.’ The internship is designed to open up opportunities for them to gain academic skills alongside sport so that they have something to fall back on. We’ve now had buy-in from 25 companies, including the Bristol offices of Airbus, DAC Beachcroft, Matrix and Robert Half.
The programme will match each scholar to a company that meets their interests, be it law, finance, construction or sport. Each scholar will have the opportunity to choose the company they’re placed in, and they can try out different placements throughout the programme if unsure about where their future career path lies.
Individual player sponsorship
Having worked closely with the Bears Academy, we developed a strong affinity with Dave Attwood, a player that has been through the academy and has since set up the Bristol University Dave Attwood Rugby Scholarship. Dave does a host of charitable work and has signed up for another year with the Bears whilst completing his law degree to set him up for his post-rugby career. These principles embody the philosophy of Xledger and represent a perfect symbiosis between our backing of the academy and monetary support. Our commitment to sponsoring Dave Attwood’s efforts is the first step towards Xledger extending support to more professionals post-career.
NHS vaccination milestone lunches
When we signed the agreement to sponsor the South Stand at Ashton Gate, we were expecting to support the heroes on the pitch. But, as the stadium is now being used for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out effort, we are, in effect, sponsoring the real heroes within it – our frontline workers.
In partnership with Ashton Gate, we are celebrating the NHS’s fantastic achievement of reaching 75,000, 100,000 and 125,000 vaccinations at the venue by providing a complimentary lunch for all workers to celebrate the key milestones. Our sponsorship of the stadium comes with a great deal of pride for Xledger staff, but as we’re unable to attend the South Stand, we wanted to support the efforts of frontline workers in some small part.
Our partnership with Bristol Sport is something that we’re incredibly proud of, and we plan to extend our support for many years to come. We’re already seeing the difference it’s making to young people, and the response has been encouragingly positive.
Find out more about Xledger’s corporate social responsibility here.