A helping hand is being extended to initiatives dedicated to sport, wellness and young people in Chichester and Bognor.
A leading manufacturer of fresh, convenient food, Natures Way Foods (NWF) has put community support at the heart of its business.
Communications executive Hannah Lambourne said NWF’s community programme embraces three overlapping pillars: sport, healthy living and children and education.
The Chichester Triathlon, for example, has been sponsored by NWF for well over a decade but also sees about 25 staff take part in the event itself every year.
NWF insight and communications manager Stephanie Jones said: “We’ve been involved since its inception and give a bit of money, time and fruit on the finishing line. People love coming to help.”
NWF also partners with Chichester District Council (CDC) in the promotion of wellbeing, such as a CDC-run initiative in primary schools which has had ‘excellent feedback’. In addition, since 2017, it has donated money for the upkeep and maintenance of Priory Park, Chichester.
Other programmes include ‘Field to Fork’, whereby NWF invites primary and junior schools from a 10-mile radius to learn about more about healthy food.
Hannah said: “The children learn about where food is grown, how it is grown and goes to the factory and what we do and, at the end of the session, make their own salad bowls and take them home to their families. They get to learn about fresh products - they are all so excited and we always get completely booked up. We also tailor programmes to schools with special needs children.”
NWF also offers every staff member a day’s pay a year to work on community projects.
Recent events include helping transform a former wilderness in the grounds of St Paul’s Church, Chichester into a wildflower garden; ditch clearance alongside Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group, Selsey; a ‘really successsful’ beach clean in Selsey; and help for the wildlife hospital run by Brent Lodge.
Other initatives include charity partnerships with children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House and Ronald Macdonald House, support for Create and Cook, a ‘charity Masterchef-style project for secondary school children’ focusing on food miles and sustainability and sponsorship of Chichester charity UKHarvest with pilot programmes based around the concept of ‘rescued food’.
‘We say yes when we can’
NWF communications executive Hannah Lambourne said fresh thinking has been at the heart of Natures Way Foods (NWF) from the very beginning, when it started producing prepared salads in 1994.
Now supplying prepared salads, prepared fruit, coleslaw and potato salad, dressed salads and ‘fresh food to go’ products to some of the UK’s largest supermarket and foodservice companies, volunteering and community support is woven into the fabric of NWF’s business.
Insight and communications manager Stephanie Jones said: “We genuinely want to be known as a trusted partner in the community.
“We’re not just paying lip service to this - we want to put our actions and and mind behind it. It’s one of our corporate social responsibility pillars, as well as sustainability and our people agenda, and our community programme is integral to our culture. We want to have a good reputation and to be known as genuine, supportive, open and friendly.”
As such, NWF’s volunteering programme is put out to staff, who are all invited to take part.
So far, reactions have been overwhelmingly positive from the 1,200 ‘mostly local’ people working at NWF.
Stephanie said: “There is a geniune will within the business to reach out in the community.”
Andrew Williams is one of many volunteers to get involved in community projects.
He said: “I thoroughly enjoy volunteering for NWF, as my usual role is desk-bound. The opportunity to be outdoors, with other colleagues, giving some of my energy is in itself rewarding. Meeting local groups and individuals and hearing about their aims (in their own words) adds to the feeling that we are part of the local community.”
Kathryn Mundy said: “I’m grateful that NWF offer the opportunity for us to volunteer on a variety of different projects- from painting to gardening. I really enjoy spending time doing something totally different to the day-to-day whilst meeting new people or learning a new skill. It’s a fulfilling feeling to know that you have made a difference in the community, however big or small.”
Stephanie said NWF gets many requests for help: “We can’t say yes to all of them – but we say yes when we can!”