- Xledger is a key sponsor of Bristol Sport and has now extended this for several more years
- Xledger launches Bristol Bears Internship programme during 2020 to provide young people with valuable work experience
- Xledger becomes Principle Partner to Bristol Flyers
- Xledger celebrates NHS momentous milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 vaccinations at Ashton Stadium by providing lunch for all NHS workers
Ian Halliwell, Sales and Marketing Director, Xledger (www.xledger.com)
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’s 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 sport 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. As a reaction to the pandemic, many other supporters had to withdraw their commercial agreements with sporting organisations. Whilst understandable, it only added to the strain which was felt by the groups, the players and participants and the wider community.
Throughout the pandemic, our support was unwavering; not only did our long-term sponsorship of Bristol Sport continue, it also increased with us sponsoring the Bears Academy and also becoming Principle Partner to Bristol Flyers. 2020 also saw us pioneer a new internship programme to provide young people with experience in the workplace. This dimension of our support is our way of giving something back to the community more directly.
Xledger launches Bristol Bears Internship programme
The new agreement with The Bristol Bears Academy forms part of Xledger’s sponsorship. It maintains our support for sport in the Bristol community, but more importantly, will see us invest in youngsters aged 13 years upwards as part of the Bristol Bears Academy Programme. Sport is a powerful influence in breaking down social boundaries between age groups and inequalities with far reaching positive impacts. But it extends far beyond a game of football or rugby. 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.
Xledger first piloted the programme last year with the appointment of 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 aim of the programme is to develop the Bears Academy young players on and off the field. Professional sport is 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. Xledger has 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 not only pick the company, but also to try out different placements throughout the programme. This is well suited to anybody unsure about where their future career path lies.
Sponsorship extends to individual players
Xledger’s commitment to Bristol Sport also extends to its players. Having worked closely with the Bears Academy, we developed a strong affinity with Dave Attwood, a player that had gone 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.
Another part of Xledger’s sponsorship commitment is to sponsor the South stand at Ashton Gate Stadium. When the agreement was signed, 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, Xledger are in effect sponsoring the real heroes within it, our frontline workers.
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 front-line workers in some small part. We decided that the best way to do this is by providing a complimentary lunch for all workers to celebrate key milestones.
In partnership with Ashton Gate, which has offered discounted rates for the food provision, Xledger has already celebrated the NHS’s fantastic achievement of reaching the milestone of 75,000 vaccinations at the venue. We are very excited and proud to extend this support once again now that NHS front-line workers have achieved the momentous milestone of 100,000 vaccinations.
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 that its making to young people and the response has been encouragingly positive. It’s proof that when commercial support is directed in the right way, with initiatives that align with company ethos, great things can happen.