How Local Businesses and Charities Can Work Together

How Local Businesses And Charities Can Work Together

Brand activism is one of the most overused corporate buzz phrases of recent times. As the public becomes evermore likely to spend their money with companies proclaiming a social conscience, so big businesses are tripping over each other to align themselves with a deserving cause. But consumers are increasingly savvy and can sniff a cynical marketing ploy long before they’ve even opened up their Instagram.

Fortunately, living and working in Brighton, we at PLATF9RM see businesses reaching out to charities for all the right reasons: the city is a hotbed for community projects and company owners doing their best to support them.

We spoke to a couple of PLATF9RM members about their work with local organizations, how they’ve made it a part of company culture, and got some advice for businesses looking to do the same.


Brighton has a thriving community spirit, so we spoke with Vicki from @FuguPR and @Emma_Betty about how local businesses and charities can work together. 🙌

Viki Hughes - Fugu PR

Fugu’s emphasis on community is something that’s very visible. Where has that come from?

Having a positive impact has become a central part of our company culture – it’s a team thing. As we have grown, we’ve taken the time to look at things that are important to us. We want to look after each other and help build local communities.

How have you put that into practice?

We try to make sure our values inform our decisions and we look at ways of helping where we can. Sometimes this can be hard when faced with the pressures of the day to day, so we provide allocated time to work on some of the things we feel passionate about. These have included projects for charities, such as Same Sky, Little Green Pig and Brighton Housing Trust. Our support can either come in the form of pro-bono work – offering our communications expertise and network – or as an advisor trustee, and sometimes it’s a more straightforward cash donation.

How do you decide on your method of support?

By listening to what people need and thinking about how best we can help. For instance: with Brighton Housing Trust we helped create a Christmas fundraising video because they really needed donations at that time. We were also thinking of taking hot drinks to homeless people in winter but they suggested we help fund the supplies they need at First Base – their drop-in centre in Seven Dials - so we now make a regular donation to pay for their coffee supplies year-round.

Surely time is an issue? You have a business to run…

We want to run a healthy and sustainable business, but there are more ways to measure success than just profit. We have developed a model that hopefully allows us to stay true to our values whilst keeping things rolling along!

How should local companies get involved with charities?

Just get out there and do it! There are lots of gatherings and meet-ups where there will be people crying out for help. Or just reach out in an email.


Emma Lewis-Griffiths (aka Betty) – [The Social Club][1]


Can you detail some of the pro-bono projects you’ve helped, and what the work entailed?

Last year I worked with the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership. They were launching their Community Kitchen and their goal to reduce loneliness and isolation could only be achieved with the success of their paid-for cookery classes. We developed ideas and I helped bring in some of the city’s best chefs for masterclasses. Together we developed a week of launch events and they got some great exposure. It’s amazing how they’re doing a year on.

You’ve been building The Social Club from the ground up over the last three years. How/why did you make the decision to divert some of your time and energy to community projects?

Once of the main reasons I went freelance was because I wanted to work with some smaller, under-resourced organisations that can’t afford a normal PR day rate. A lot of the best projects come from people that are passionate about things but don’t have the money behind their idea to really make it work. I have a network of amazing people in Brighton and I wanted to be able to offer the right people access to it.

Do you think there’s been a tangibly positive effect on your business as a result of your pro-bono work??

The best thing about doing pro-bono work is you’re doing it because you’re passionate about the project. You obviously need to set expectations and agree on how you can support, but ultimately any opportunities to meet new people and make new connections has a positive impact on the work that you do. It’s a great opportunity to get a really positive case study too!

What must companies do to ensure that consumers don’t see through company charity work and/or activism as some cynical attempt to “appeal to millennials”?

The most important thing is to choose the project or charity that means the most to you. You have to be passionate about the cause, believe in the work, and be true to yourself.

What would you suggest to any Brighton businesses looking to get involved with community projects?

Do it! There are so many amazing initiatives happening in the city that I hear about daily. Smaller organisations often don’t have time to even think about areas of work that they aren’t experts in. If you’re not sure about getting started, The Social Society is a great way of sharing your skills with local charities that need it.


Thank you Viki and Emma!

9 Minutes With - Jessica Samson

It’s likely you’ve seen her walking the hallways of both Tower Point and Hove, usually accompanied by prospective PLATF9RM members. As far as roles go, Community Lead is a significantly impressive game of juggling multiple tasks at any one given moment, and there is no one that does it better and with such verve, than our very own Jessica Samson. We caught up with her to find out a little more about her and just how she does it!

Jess, we normally see you scampering between Tower Point and Hove Town Hall as Community Lead but what are you getting up to?

I’m really lucky and have quite a mix in my job role. I get to spend time with our members, making sure that they’re having a wonderful PLATF9RM experience. I also look after sales, keeping our offices full and bringing more great people into the community. Plus I get to work with The Drop Digital to oversee our social media.

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How long have you been at PLATF9RM, there must be a number of highlights, but what’s been the biggest?

I’ve been at PLATF9RM for 2 years next month! There are more highlights than I can count but for me Hove Town Hall Ground Floor was massive! Watching how people use this entirely new space that has been created and filling it with life has been a delight. It also meant I got to wear high vis for 12 weeks of the build which is my favourite thing.

Now, is there a certain skill one must acquire to be able to remember all the 700 plus members? Or is it a superpower?

I’m not going to lie - 500 names was just about manageable, but the influx we got at Hove when we opened the Ground Floor was the real struggle, I’m just about getting there. I think the trick is to talk to people regularly and make a LOT of cups of tea.

We’ve got quite the eclectic mix of members here at PLATF9RM, don’t worry we won’t ask you to name favourites but what are the top five industries in our member make up?

We do have such a mix! I find it fascinating that you can have a room of people in different fields sat next to each other, bouncing ideas and being supportive. We have a lot of creatives; photographers, graphic designers, writers and another field that you’d sort of expect is tech; developers, web designers, UX designers but I really enjoy that so many different people can utilise the space - electricians, yoga instructors, doctors, clowns — you name it - we’re home to them!

Not many people know that you’re not a thorough bred Brightonian, how did you end up here?

I’m a Yorkshire girl at heart - I came down here to do a degree in Graphic Design and fell in LOVE with Brighton and it’s huge array of pubs, dogs, the sea and the most wonderful people.

Did you always want to go down the route of Graphic Design?

No not at all, I actually didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I’m a creative person and I love beautiful ‘things’ so going in the Graphic Design direction sort of made sense - didn’t stop me getting cold feet the night before I moved to Brighton and thinking ‘Oh God what am I doing, I want to be a vet’. As it turns out it all led me to the right spot and I feel so lucky to have found a job I adore doing.

You’re known for having quite a distinctive laugh, what’s brought about the biggest laugh since being at PLATF9RM?

Distinctive, ha! I generally find myself the funniest human on the planet. Also, the more I laugh the bigger my laugh gets. The biggest laugh was possibly the time I had a dream about Leanne dressed up as an (angry) carrot for a Harvest Festival and when I saw her and tried to explain it I completely lost the plot.

It’s also no big secret that you’re a dog fanatic, so who’s your favourite PLATF9RM Pup?

Clarence Hillier's the Original PLATF9RM Pup for me, he has stolen my heart in a way I never expected a yappy / sassy / hilarious terrier to. I have a tendency to keep hold of him for days longer than I need to. Good job David (the dog Dad) knows where I live!

Other PLATF9RM Pup Ultimate Babes include Oscar Cornelius belonging to our Sparkly Fairy Queen Amy Brown, Monty who belongs to the legend that is Emma Croman and Kipper - hero dog of Lizzie Hodgson. Also Shelby who Jason Rhahi brought in when she was just weeks old and is now a fully grown well behaved pupper. Oh, but then there’s Benji Lamb’s rescue dog, Amber, who is an extra special clever girl with just 3 legs!


You know what, they’re all just brilliant! Hove’s had some extra dogs join recently and I know our Front of House team over in Brighton have been getting jealous - we have dog treats and so much love to give them! This was NEVER going to be a short answer, was it.

What do you bring to make work wonderful?

We have an incredible team who support and cheerlead each other in every aspect of life - they make everyday fun and being part of a powerhouse of a team really makes it simple to make work wonderful. I’d also like to think I bring an overall constant enthusiasm, it makes my days at PLATF9RM so much more fulfilled knowing that I can help take care of people, from anyone’s very first tour, all the way to their signing up — either in cups of teas, a friendly chat or yes, my often heard “distinctive” laugh.

Thank you so much for answering these. Hopefully we've shone a little light onto the world of Jess and your invaluable role in making things work like clockwork.

Member of the Week - Steven Fisher

Introducing Steven Fisher, Managing Director of Kingfisher Electrics, PLATF9RM's in-house electrician and one of our newest members. Hello Steven!

So Steven, you’ve been an electrician for 17 years now. What made you pursue it as a career and when did you decide to run your own company?

After returning back from 12 months of backpacking around Australia, New Zealand and Thailand I decided to get a trade with the idea that it would allow me to travel more and work wherever I went.

5 years later I was qualified but working abroad was no longer an ambition of mine but I did enjoy the work. No day is the same and that keeps things interesting.

I'd always been too scared to take the leap and run my own business but when the company I worked for went into liquidation I was presented with a fantastic opportunity.

Jobs and customers were already there plus my ex boss helped introduce me to some great contacts.

Having just become a father of two; myself and my fiance Victoria thought it was worth a shot. If it went well it would be brilliant for us as a family for obvious reasons. Thankfully everything has gone well so far!


Do you have any disaster stories from your career that you’re allowed to share?

When I was an apprentice, I managed to put my foot through a customers ceiling. He was a 6′4″ policeman. Luckily he was very understanding and didn’t thump or arrest me!

I see you work with your brother as your second hand man. How is employing a sibling?

He was my apprentice for a short period of time but he has actually changed careers since. We definitely had some difficult moments but are still on good terms!

What is your favourite outside of work past-time?

If it's a nice sunny day then playing golf with a few of the chaps can be extremely pleasurable!

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

The sunshine! Everything seems better in the Summer. And if I can get childcare; Pride is always a fun weekend.

How long have you been in Brighton and how does it compare to other places you’ve lived?

Originally I'm a South Londoner, I've lived in Isleworth, Clapham Junction and Haywards Heath. Nothing compares to Hove for me, I love it. I even drink Earl Grey these days. I'm proper posh now.


When did you join PLATF9RM?

About 4 months ago.

What motivated you to Cowork?

I needed somewhere local with good parking at a reasonable price. It’s healthy to not bring my work home with me. The PLATF9RM offices are gorgeous and everyone is really friendly. It was a no brainer.

Are you attending any of our events over the next few weeks?

If I'm honest I haven't planned to but am always open to a bit of networking.

Thank you Steven!

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

Lessons From Lewes FC: The World’s First Football Club To Offer Gender Pay Equality

In 2017, Lewes FC became the world’s first football club to commit to pay parity for its men’s and women’s teams. It was a historical moment for a male-dominated sport that propelled the non-league club, established in 1885, into the wider consciousness.

Since then the women’s team has gone from strength-to-strength, while the club itself has carried on as normal: fan-owned and not-for-profit since 2010, with a commitment to helping the community, they are an example for anyone that believes football is just a plaything for millionaires and tired masculine tropes. They also share similar traits with small businesses and show that, in an era where we’re all striving for workplace parity, the status quo can be broken from below. We spoke to Marketing Manager Charlie Dobres about their journey, and why equality is the key to success: in business and on the pitch.

Hey Charlie, how have things changed since 2017?

Obviously, we generated a lot of media coverage and on the pitch, we’ve moved up to FA Women’s Championship. We [the women’s team] have a different manager. Our average attendance has doubled [to 586] so Lewes is in the top 10 most supported women’s teams in the country. We’re hoping to get into the top five this season and aiming for around 1000. We think the audience is there.

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Is this better performance simply down to paying a higher wage?

It doesn’t all come down to that but in Soccernomics – a bible of football economics – one of the main takeouts is there’s almost a linear relationship between playing budget size, how much you pay players, and the success you get.

In our case that is augmented by the fact we’re giving a very strong signal about what you’re doing. So it [pay parity] is motivation for existing players and also a beacon for ones that might want to come play for you. When we get to the end of this current phase and hopefully we’re in the Super League [the top women’s football division in the country] and people ask, ‘How did you get there?’ we want to be able to clearly identify that it’s down to our gender parity stance.

Do you think your status as a fan-owned club has enabled you to take this stand?

Our one-member, one-vote, not-for-profit status has obviously helped but anyone can do it. It’s a choice. We’re asked a lot if mutualising our status enabled us to take this stance and the answer is: sort of. But actually, it’s a choice.

Where did this commitment to a profound moral standpoint come from?

In 2010 we became community owned and our constitution stated that front and centre, the club was to be an engine for social change. We’ve interpreted that as being exemplary in everything we do and we currently have a certain amount of notoriety because of our stance on equal pay, but we also want to be exemplary in our football.

It’s like businesses? People invest in companies they believe in and that comes from a place of truth.

The best products and companies offer genuine benefits but are also authentic in terms of their meaning and association.

It feels like there’s a big opportunity for clubs and businesses with women’s football at the moment, especially with the World Cup generating new levels of attention.

It’s huge but we would like there to be 100 times more investment from people in the game. If you look at pattern outside the UK – places like France, Germany – in some cases the attendances are stagnant and falling again.

Then you get cases like Wanda Metropolitan [the Madrid stadium where over 60,000 people watched the women’s teams of Atlético Madrid and Barcelona’s play in March] which says there is a massive demand.

How have you seen your own crowds evolve?

We noticed early on that our crowds are largely women, ages 25-30 plus, who don’t like football.


No way! That’s fascinating.

We were seeing a lot of statements from women who liked what we were doing in terms of pay parity and decided to give it a go. It’s women who are old enough to have perhaps encountered enough sexism to recognise the difference in what we’re doing; they’d come and see women being brave, competitive, aggressive, sweaty, and not having to conform to the usual stereotypes. And get to share in that and shout about it with other people. It also seemed that there was a lot of women who wouldn’t consider going to a game because they think there’ll be a certain type of atmosphere. But they come here and have the experience and it’s great, then they tell friends.

Is it a different experience to men’s?

It’s about not automatically mimicking the men’s football experience. You know – you turn up 15/20 mins before kick off, barely move from your seat, then leave. We offer an elongated, enjoyable occasion. It’s still full of passion and excitement but it’s less pressurized.


Family is a big audience for you too?

Absolutely. Kids go free and that’s a big part of our policy.

Is there a game you’d recommend a first-timer attends to get the ultimate experience?

The first few games are the League Cup and, at that point, the chances are we’ll get a game against a London-based Super League team. But there are only 10 league games a season so make sure you come along because they’ll be gone before you know it!

Thank you Charlie!

Fancy more? Read Seb Royles' recent Letter to Members here: