When a company takes an interest in its local community, it is putting its civic responsibility at the top of the agenda. Also known as Corporate Social Responsibility, this business model has taken a strong hold in recent years as companies have recognised that their purpose is increasingly aligned with their commitment to society. The company gains a number of long-term benefits in terms of community support, loyalty and the fostering of good will. This, in turn, helps to raise awareness of the company’s products and services.

There is no better example of this than at Stanhope-Seta in Chertsey where the company’s ethos manifests itself through the part it plays in the community. For many years it has encouraged local students and young people to gain first-hand work experience, extending from the factory floor to the sales and marketing divisions. Other than a temporary lull due to Covid, the company has enjoyed a close link, in particular, with local school, Salesian School.

Enhancing this commitment to provide a meaningful experience of the work place, Director of Stanhope-Seta, Giles Verity DL, places emphasis on his own links with charities. One such example is Holme Farm, in neighbouring Woodham, where he is Trustee and an active board member.

I’m wholly supportive of recognising and assisting areas of the community where disadvantaged young people and adults may be given a chance to change their circumstances,” he commented. “I also believe that it adds a further dimension to our business, which is an important aspect of the way it operates.

Giles Verity DL

Holme Farm is a newly established charity with ambitious plans. In November 2021, a group of individuals won its campaign to gain access to the land from DEFRA. The governing principles at the heart of this initiative are green and social prescribing, education and conservation.

The Holme Farm vision is to bring all communities together, keeping mental and physical health at the centre of its planning. Over time, it aims to build and maintain an environmentally sustainable space, encourage biodiversity and forge relationships with key stakeholders.

Plans include the development of an outside space for a community allotment, sensory garden, apiary, biodiversity and wildlife projects (including learning area) as well as the restoration of two buildings for carpentry, arts and crafts, IT skills, a meeting room, café and welfare room. The building itself will be designed to meet zero-carbon principles to ensure longevity and minimise future energy requirements. This project is designed to be fully inclusive and aimed at all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds as well as all ages and orientations.

In the early months of Holme Farm, Giles played a role in community engagement and perception of the project. The data and information he received was then passed on to his colleague, Jadranka Nicholls, who has been employed by the firm for 20 years and is responsible for the relationship with its charities as well as overseeing work experience students.

“Bringing students in for the work experience week is mutually beneficial as we can see young potential and are able to offer guidance in their chosen direction.” said Jadranka. “We are here to support their strengths and interests, broaden their minds about the future job requirements and demonstrate the importance of motivation and perseverance.”

In June 2022, Salesian student, Sophia Lobue, carried out her week of work experience, choosing the marketing department in order to get an overview of the office environment and to explore her interest in marketing. She decided to put her efforts into producing some slides and graphs to demonstrate the impact of Holme Farm.

I really enjoyed working in the marketing department. This has been something I have been interested in for a while and it was a great insight to see what they do and how they promote their products. I think community projects, such as Holme Farm, are a lovely way of giving back to the community and a great way to unite people as one. It’s a way of getting people of all different ages and backgrounds involved in helping each other.

Sophia Lobue

The results and support have been overwhelmingly positive. A huge 50% give the project 10/10 and think its unique with nothing like it in this area. It is viewed as inclusive, gives people the chance to try things such as woodwork, metalwork and mechanics and to develop new skills.

Further comments included “it brings people together and creates a sense of community”; “it’s a good opportunity to teach others and learn new things about nature”; “Holme Farm’s proposal is unique”; “it gives a sense of inclusivity among people”; “Holme Farm supports people who are less fortunate”.

It is clear that there is a strong sense of community – being there for one another – in North West Surrey. Holme Farm opens its gates every day and there’s nothing like an actual visit to feel the magic and the impact it is having.

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