Why charity begins at home

Three Teesside business leaders have called on others to join them in supporting local charities after highlighting the benefits and impact of their backing for the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, High Tide Foundation and CEO Sleepout.

Jules France of Space Meetings and Events was joined by John Heward of JH Mechanical and Michael Shakesheff of Casper Shipping on the latest Tees Business Leaders online Q&A, focusing on why businesses should support local charities.

Jules is CEO of Space Meetings and Events, a free venue-finding service that supports CEO Sleepout, a Teesside-based national charity set up to inspire the business community to fight homelessness and poverty.

“To rally your people around a cause that can change people’s lives is really important,” said Jules, who is set to take part in the next CEO Sleepout event in the courtyard at Middlesbrough Town Hall in May.

“Showing your customers that you care about people in need by supporting a credible charity that works locally or nationally to turn lives around shows you are a leader with purpose.”

CEO Sleepout began on Teesside and the work they do on a national scale, raising nearly £3m for more than 100 charities nationally is clearly vital, said Jules.

“Middlesbrough has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country so it’s important that we support where we can,” she said.

“There’s a new sleepout at the Town Hall which will give people a little taste of what sleeping rough is like and also to raise awareness.”

Many charities have had a tough year due to the impact of Covid, which makes it all the more important that those who have the ability do their bit to support them.

“Why wouldn’t you help if you can?” said John, MD of Stockton-based JH Mechanical, a leading provider of mechanical electrical and water management services. The business supports Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation as members of its Infant Hercules Charity Club, which also includes Tees Business.

“The impact a company, as opposed to an individual, can have is a lot bigger and can reach much further,” said John.

“It’s great for your employees see you invest in the local area and in good causes and it’s also great for clients to see what you’re doing as a business. I find it a bit of a therapy.

“JH Mechanical Services is only a small company, so joining the Philanthropic Foundation as Infant Hercules members is a great first step for us. It’s a small investment, a step on the ladder and an opportunity to speak to other businesses and like-minded people.”

John likes the fact that the Foundation is Teesside-based.

“It’s a great charity for the area and, as a Teessider, it’s great to know I can support local people. It’s good home economics – you look after your own.”

On a much larger scale, Middlesbrough’s Casper Shipping, a family-run national shipping marine services company, established on the River Tees in 1872, has been a major supporter of High Tide Foundation since its inception in 2012.

“For me, supporting charity is not only a duty, but it gives me a sense of purpose which in turn leads to a sense of well-being,” said Casper CEO Michael Shakesheff.

“In business, you have to realise that there are often much bigger issues at stake and the idea of High Tide Foundation is to open people’s eyes to the jobs that there are here on Teesside in and around the River Tees.

“The biggest driver for us getting involved with High Tide is because shipping is very much an invisible industry.

“When we started talking to young people on Teesside, most actually thought that the only jobs available were in shops, but Teesport is one of the largest ports in the UK so it follows that there are huge job opportunities.

“High Tide raises the aspirations of young people on Teesside with a focus on meaningful work experience and career programmes.

“As a company, we have recruited directly through High Tide so the charity helps not only young people who want and deserve good jobs, but local industry too.”

• Tees Business Leaders is hosted by Tees Business in association with our partners PD Ports, statutory harbour authority for the River Tees, and owner of Teesport, one of the fastest-growing UK ports. PD Ports is also one of the largest employers in the Tees Valley and is now celebrating 20 years of supporting young people in the region through its apprenticeship programme.