Royal Docks businesses sign up to the Community Wealth Building Pledge for a fairer Newham
Tate & Lyle Sugars and Expressway have taken the lead in community wealth building, committing to the borough’s bold new pledge for inclusive growth. At this November’s Royal Docks Networking Forum, the Mayor of Newham set out how the borough is becoming a beacon for sustainable business.
The tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic will be measured not only in lives lost but households struggling to make ends meet. The numbers hide thousands of such stories: in February this year, around 8,000 people in Newham claimed benefits. By September, that figure had more than tripled. Making wealth work for everyone has rarely felt more urgent. Yet as we face the challenges of a Covid-19 recovery, this also presents a unique turning point: a chance to build back better.
At this November’s Royal Docks Networking Forum, the Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, unveiled the borough’s Community Wealth Building Pledge, a moral compass that sets out the framework for a better future. It’s a “pioneering and bold inclusive economic approach” that gives local organisations the opportunity to tangibly commit to the prosperity and wellbeing of all residents by embedding community wealth building principles into their everyday practices and long-term strategies.
We are a borough full of ingenuity, of enthusiasm, of innovation, of entrepreneurship and we wanted to unleash that.
Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham
Speaking to the forum over a video link, Rokhsana said, “For us, our Covid-19 recovery and reorientation strategy is a chance to challenge the old ways of doing things and create stronger coalitions, movements for social justice, for change that benefits everyone.” Newham, she added, will always remain a great place to invest and do business, a place of remarkable entrepreneurial spirit – and the Community Wealth Building Pledge will help to unlock that. “We have seen that we are a borough which, yes, is marked and scarred by inequality... but we are a borough full of ingenuity, of enthusiasm, of innovation, of entrepreneurship and we wanted to unleash that on the basis that we have confidence in our communities, in our residents, in our small businesses.”
The Royal Docks, London’s only Enterprise Zone, has a central role to play as a hub for that ingenuity and good growth. And we’re making it a priority to create local opportunities for local people. Tomi Moronkola, the Royal Docks Team’s economic development manager, presented to the forum the Royal Docks’ new internship programme, which will offer up to 20 local young people paid internships and mentoring with businesses in the area.
Being able to access that fantastic pool of local talent for any business is a really exciting thing.
Gerald Mason, Tate & Lyle Sugars
Two key employers have already committed their organisations to the Community Wealth Building Pledge. Tate & Lyle Sugars’ Gerald Mason talked through the sugar giant’s work with Community Food Enterprise and Lyle’s Local Fund, a £50,000 charitable fund that the company doubled this year in recognition of its extraordinary circumstances. Tate & Lyle Sugars have now achieved accreditation as a Living Wage Employer. Gerald’s advice to companies considering taking the plunge? Don’t underestimate how much you’ll gain as well as give. He said, “Being able to access that fantastic pool of local talent for any business is a really exciting thing. And it’s incredible over the last few years how much our own people want to see that we're doing the right thing in the communities that we operate in.”
The Community Wealth Building Pledge includes business commitments that range from fair treatment of staff and tenants to buying local to cutting the organisation’s carbon footprint. Expressway founder Jacob Loftus was frank that delivering on the pledge during the pandemic has been “incredibly challenging”. But, he told the forum, “We want to be industry leaders, showing our industry what the new benchmark needs to look like and what the new expectation should be for our peers.” Expressway is offering free workspace and mentoring for young people. The workspace hub, based under the Silvertown flyover, has also been providing an Expressway Genius Bar since March to support small businesses through the current crisis.
It’s about articulating a sense of deep values that all of us hold and share.
Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham
In closing, the Mayor of Newham commented, “For all of those new investors coming to us, I've been heartened and humbled by your proactivity and your embracing of the proposals... It’s not just about a moral responsibility and it’s not just about better commercial outcomes, it’s about articulating a sense of deep values that all of us hold and share.” Newham should be somewhere everyone benefits, no matter their background, and she’s committed to making a place, “where wellbeing and happiness and health are more important than productivity and growth.”
As the Royal Docks expands its reach as a global hub, it’s all the more crucial that everyone who lives here has a chance to enjoy the jobs, opportunities and investment flowing into the area. Read more here, sign up your company or even write to your favourite local business and suggest they do the same.
Stories from around the docks
Made in the Royal Docks: local treats to try
Over the past year, these local organisations have been keeping us nourished in mind and body.
Art & Culture
Watch artists at work without even stepping inside
Artists from Bow Arts have launched Art in the Docks, a new gallery that aims to throw the Royal Docks’ art community wide open as it taps into the area’s creative spirit.