Christmas greetings from Ethos public relations

Season's Greetings from Ethos public relations

Well, what a year! It would have been impossible, just 12 months ago, to imagine where we would all be today and how the country would have been so savagely affected by a new virus, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and here at Ethos public relations are looking forward to 2021 with hope.

As a small, well-established business, we have been able to weather the storm of 2020. Of course, our business has been affected – whose hasn’t? – but we’re still here and planning ahead for a busy year in 2021 when things finally start to get back to normal.

Working from home we have been able to maintain our client base, as well as developing websites, online shops and social media for a number of new clients, who realised that they needed to do more to promote the work they do and to do it better.

While none of us can forget the human suffering caused by coronavirus, it’s impossible to ignore that some businesses have done very well this year and that consumer habits have changed. Whether things quickly return to how they were before, as testing improves and new vaccines are rolled out, is of course hard to say.

Many organisations have – and have had to – adapt, and opportunities arise, whether we like it or not, out of every crisis.

The next year or two will continue to require businesses to be nimble and prepared to move quickly as things change. Perhaps not the recipe for a quiet life for any of us, but it’s certainly the only way that many organisations will survive.

And that’s where PR comes in. It really couldn’t be more important to get your message out quickly to your target market and to keep your customers informed about your business and any changes. There have been quite remarkable examples this year, often of small and highly flexible businesses, which have not only survived the crisis but thrived in it too. Sadly, there have also been many that have struggled or failed.

We are optimistic about 2021 and we’re hopeful that things will improve soon, and we’ll be there to help many more businesses, charities and social enterprises to get their message out to people.

And so, it just remains, at the end of another year, to raise a glass and enjoy a palm oil free mince pie as we wish you a happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2021. Keep safe and well!

Photo of lots of buttons

Is the environment worth a button?

In his latest blog Sean looks at how focussing on small items might be important in tackling climate change

At a recent conference, delegates were discussing the future of the planet and the actions individuals and businesses could take to make a significant impact on climate change.

Ideas ranged from giving up on fossil fuels entirely to energy efficiency and a switch to electric only cars. This latter idea coming hot on the (w)heels of a Government announcement that new petrol and diesel cars ‘could’ be phased out from 2035.

This sort of grand headline-grabbing initiative – though weakened by the use of the word could – is a hallmark of governments wanting to make their mark and be noticed. Interestingly, one of the next government announcements was about a proposed bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, to encourage cars to drive between the two.

But in many ways, the seriousness by which we should judge the action of businesses in relation to big issues like climate change is probably not by grand gestures or announcements, nor fundraising to help species affected by the Australian bushfires, but rather by buttons.

Yes, you read that right, buttons. Hundreds of factories in Qiaotou in China produce more than 60% of all buttons and with one factory reportedly making between 2 and 3 million buttons a day, that’s a hell of a lot of buttons.

Green button

Should all buttons be green?

Buttons have been the main way of doing up clothes for decades now, which means there have been billions of buttons made, usually from one plastic or another.

Clearly, the world doesn’t need any more buttons as almost all of those manufactured over the years are still in existence – as we know plastics are very persistent.

So why are buttons not stripped from used clothing and re-entered into the manufacturing process? Well, it’s obviously the economics (stupid) but the current system is not ecologically sustainable.

Next time you buy a new shirt or skirt with multiple buttons, think about all the millions that are either in landfill around you or that have ended their days in incinerators. What a waste!

The cynic in me feels that until we grasp the small things – like buttons – and find a way to seriously cut down on the numbers we need each year, we are not going to address climate change in the way we need to.

Who fancies setting up a button reuse and recycling company?

City investors urged to help tackle illegal loan sharks

One of the country’s leading credit unions is urging City investors to invest in a deferred share scheme which aims to tackle the issue of loan sharks and illegal money lending head on.

EthEx logo

London Capital Credit Union based in Archway, which exists to help its members save and to lend them money when needed at reasonable interest rates so they can steer clear of payday lenders and loan sharks, is looking to expand.

Says Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of the Credit Union: “We aim to raise £125,000 to £150,000 in additional capital through an issue of deferred shares. This will allow the continuing expansion of our lending as an alternative to loan sharks and other high cost credit providers. A social investment in deferred shares will have a significant positive impact on the communities that we serve, including those in the City’s poorest neighbourhoods.”

For some sections of the community, including the ‘working poor’, there are very few opportunities to access affordable credit. That’s where credit unions come in.

Regulated by the FCA and PRA, credit unions in the UK tend to operate in those areas of the market not well served by mainstream financial institutions. As members’ incomes are usually lower than average, a credit union’s main competitors are likely to be niche players offering high-interest loans to those with poor credit profiles.

London Capital Credit Union is a financial co-operative, owned and controlled by its members and providing financial services to communities across London. One of the country’s fastest growing credit unions, it has gone from 675 members and £493,000 on loan in 2008 to over 15,000 members and over £10.8m on loan at the end of 2018.

The Credit Union plays a significant role in alleviating poverty (as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has identified) and has an ambitious expansion programme. It is looking to extend its services to tens of thousands more people, so as to reduce financial exclusion and the level of poverty in the community.

Social and financial impact

Increased use of credit unions could have a real impact on local communities. Analysts from a well-known City institution performed an assessment of the social and financial impact of London Capital Credit Union and concluded that, on average, for every pound lent to clear existing debts, members save £1.25 each year in interest, bank charges and fees.

A single investment in deferred shares provides ongoing benefits far beyond the amount invested. With the regulatory requirement for credit unions to hold capital representing 10% of their assets, an investment of £100,000 of deferred shares would allow £1 million to be lent and leads to £1.25 million in benefits to members in a single year.

Over four years, the Credit Union’s members could save some £5 million of loan costs. This is money that is likely to stay in the community, benefitting local businesses and supporting local employment.

Martin Groombridge adds: “The concept of social enterprise and social investment is tried and tested, proven to bring real benefits to our communities. The launch of our deferred shares provides social investors with a practical way of helping more people escape from high cost debt.”

Investors looking to make a difference to the local community can find out more and apply for shares here: https://www.ethex.org.uk/LondonCapitalCreditUnion.

Shrewsbury travel business shortlisted for presitigious tourism award

Janet Redler Travel & Tourism in Shrewsbury has been shortlisted for this year’s UKInbound Awards for Excellence, the leading awards for the UK inbound tourism industry.

Jan_and_Nick_2019_-_Copy_-_Copy.jpgJanet Redler and Nick Bardsley, the Partners at Janet Redler Travel & Tourism

2019 has been a huge year for Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, including seeing their team expand to meet growing worldwide demand and taking on additional offices at their Shrewsbury base.

The shortlist was selected by an independent panel of industry experts, and members of UKInbound will now have the chance to vote for their winners. UKInbound is the trade association that represents the UK’s inbound tourism – the sixth largest export industry and third largest employer in the country. 

Janet Redler Travel & Tourism specialises in delivering tailor-made, personal and luxury tours of the UK. With over 30 years’ experience, Janet and her team work with travel agents, organisations and individuals to arrange customised travel for clients all over the world.

The annual awards celebrate the best of inbound tourism and nominations are for those businesses which have made a significant contribution to the UK’s inbound tourism industry over the past 12 months.

Categories include Tour Operator of the Year, Attraction of the Year, Accommodation Provider of the Year and Regional Member of the Year, the category for which Janet Redler Travel & Tourism has been shortlisted.

Janet Redler, Chief Executive of Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for the leading awards in our industry, demonstrating the strength of the inbound tourism industry across the UK regions and shining a light on our fabulous town of Shrewsbury.

“2019 has been a momentous year for us, as we have welcomed many more clients from different parts of the world. 2020 is set to be even bigger and better, with some incredible specialist tours in the pipeline, including three quilting tours and a large-scale trip from the US which will allow over 200 travellers from North America private access to Stonehenge.

“Two years ago, we were delighted to be chosen for the Tour Operator of the Year category; this time we are hoping to go one better and win Regional Member of the Year.”

The wide range of tours offered by Janet Redler Travel & Tourism has continued to grow, including specialist garden tours, wine and food tours, heritage, academic and music tours. They have also welcomed increasing numbers of independent travellers and small groups from North America, allowing them to showcase the best that Great Britain and Ireland have to offer.

This year, Janet’s son and daughter-in-law have relocated to Shrewsbury to join the team, helping to ensure that the warm family feel that Janet Redler Travel & Tourism is known for continues.

Janet was also delighted to welcome Kat Colling on board, to bring innovative ideas to the business and to assist with future growth. Kat is an experienced UK tourism professional, director of two UK tourism-focused businesses and 2018’s Young Person of the Year at the Wales Tourism Awards.

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at Aerospace Bristol – the home of the legendary aircraft Concorde – on Thursday 6 February 2020 as part of the UKInbound Annual Convention.

Could you help shape co-operation for the next 20 years?

Enthusiastic young co-operators are being sought to co-produce the ‘2020 Vision’ conference in Birmingham in 2020.

Co-operative Futures is organising 2020 Vision as it approaches its 20th anniversary next year. The conference will have a firm focus on the future. What will the world look like in 2040? What will be our big societal challenges and what are our opportunities?

• What role will Artificial Intelligence and other technological developments play in the future?
• How will our lives have to change in order to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change?
• How will an ageing population and the changing demographics of society play out in 20 years’ time?
• What will the political landscape look like?
Are you under 30?

Are you already engaged with, or interested in finding out more about the co-operative or social enterprise sector? Would you like to increase your knowledge of community led enterprises and mutually owned businesses? Would you like the opportunity to shape the direction of the sector and have your voice heard? Would you like to gain some hands-on practical experience of conference organisation and facilitation?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then we’d love to hear from you and tell you more about how you can get involved with helping to run 2020 Vision with us.

Said Jo White from Co-operative Futures: “We are really interested in hearing from people under 30 who can help us design our conference. Their input will really help us to create an event that not only celebrates the co-operative successes of the past 20 years, but also helps shape how co-ops develop in the next 20.”

If you are interested, then please contact Jo by Monday 23rd December 2019 on jo.white@futures.coop or 07879 415550.

About the conference:
Future Co-ops 2020 will be taking place on 7th and 8th February 2020 at The Beeches conference centre in Bournville, Birmingham. Booking will open soon and places can be secured by visiting https://futures.coop/2020-vision.

London Capital Credit Union adds support to those affected by Hurricane Dorian

London Capital Credit Union has joined credit unions around the world to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian, which hit The Bahamas at the beginning of September.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian prompted the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions to initiate Project Storm Break to provide financial support to those affected in The Bahamas, and almost $200,000 (£162,000) has so far been raised, including a donation from London Capital Credit Union.

Project Storm Break funds are initially being distributed to help credit unions provide members and staff with emergency supplies. The money is also helping credit unions get back up and running so they can provide much needed cash and other financial services to their members.

According to the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, credit unions on the island of Grand Bahama were the hardest hit. The Grand Bahama Co-operative Credit Union suffered major flooding and roof damage at its branch in Freeport, the main town on the island. Four employees, including the branch manager, also lost their homes in the storm. In addition, four other credit unions suffered damage to their Freeport branches.

On Abaco—the other island hardest hit by Dorian—there was at least some good news. The Teachers and Salaried Workers Credit Union branch in Marsh Harbour suffered no damage, and is located in one of the few structures left standing on the island.

Mike Reuter, Executive Director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, said: “We want to help these community-based institutions get back in business and servicing members as soon as possible – even if it is in a parking lot tent or other temporary location for now. Getting these credit unions back on their feet is the best step we can take to getting their members back on a path to a sustainable future.”

Elaine Greaves, Director at London Capital Credit Unions

Elaine Greaves, Director at London Capital Credit Unions

 

Elaine Greaves, Director at London Capital Credit Union added: “We’re pleased to have played a small part in the fundraising effort by making a donation from our credit union and we hope other groups and individuals can also support the rebuilding of credit unions in The Bahamas by making their own contribution.”

To find out more about Project Storm Break and to make a donation, click here.

Internationally acclaimed Monaco Boys Choir tours Britain

The world-famous Monaco Boys Choir is touring Britain in July and will be performing at a number of venues to raise funds for charity.

Monaco Boys Choir

Monaco Boys Choir, “Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco”, is one of the world’s leading youth choirs and is celebrated internationally for its repertoire of classical and traditional works. The choir is embarking on a three-week tour of Britain, organised by Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, and will be performing at venues across England and Scotland.

The choir was established by Prince Albert I of Monaco in 1904 and is comprised of 30 boys, aged between 9 and 18 years of age. Today, under the patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, and with the generous support of the Monaco Government, the choir performs charity concerts all around the globe.

Monaco Boys Choir gives an average of 40 concerts each year and has visited more than 40 countries. Its musical repertoire includes sacred works by the likes of Bach, Mozart, Fauré and Mendelssohn, as well as traditional folk songs and French chansons.

The choir has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Centre in Washington, the Opera of Shanghai and the Conservatoire Tchaikovsky in Moscow. It has also performed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and at the UNESCO General Conference in Paris.

Janet Redler, Chief Executive of Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, said: “Monaco Boys Choir is a world-famous youth choir and we are delighted that they have chosen Janet Redler Travel & Tourism to organise their tour of the UK. The choir’s performances are a wonderful showcase of Monaco’s cultural and artistic heritage, and the concerts are not to be missed!”

Janet Redler Travel & Tourism has a long history of organising group and concert travel in the UK and recently arranged a highly successful 19-day tour of the UK for almost 100 members of the Starfire Singers from California.

Performances will take place at:

  • Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London (Sunday 7 July)
  • The Swiss Church in London (Monday 8 July)
  • Church of Notre Dame de France in London (Thursday 11 July)
  • St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham (Friday 12 July)
  • All Saints Church Baschurch, Shrewsbury (Sunday 14 July)
  • Selby Abbey (Monday 15 July)
  • Paisley Methodist Church (Thursday 18 July)
  • St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Aberdeen (Friday 19 July)
  • All Saints Church, Maidstone (Tuesday 23 July)

To find out more and for booking details, click here.

London Capital Credit Union is hiring

London Capital Credit Union is hiring. Please see below for details of the role as Loans support Officer and how to aaply.

“We are offering an exciting opportunity to work in the financial services sector with a dynamic and rapidly growing co-operative business as a Loans Support Officer, working in credit control.

London Capital Credit UnionWe are recruiting a Loans Support Officer – Credit Control, to be based at our head office near Archway tube station in North London. This is a full time, temporary three month contract (may become permanent), at a salary of £13.56 per hour (£26,796pa).

The credit union is a savings and loans co-operative that is dedicated to encouraging saving and dealing with debt. Owned and democratically controlled by its members, the credit union is seeking a hard-working and committed individual to serve as part of a small team of Loans Support Officers.

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate to help us continue to build our successful co-operative business by establishing a rapport with members, applying credit control policies, assisting with loan decision making, and maintaining high levels of member satisfaction. We operate in the fiercely competitive financial services market and want to train new committed staff who will assist us in continuing to grow our credit union.

The main duties and responsibilities of the Loans Support Officer role will be to:

Implement the bad debt recovery policy, particularly early stages
Assist members facing difficulty in repaying their loan to the credit union
Help apply the eligible deduction loans service procedures
Liaise with debt collection agencies to maximise recovery rates
Actively trace borrowers in arrears who have changed address
Reschedule loans in accordance with policy to minimise cost of provisioning
Notify the line manager of any loans in arrears of particular concern
Ensure that adequate provision for bad debt is made in the accounts
Enter debt recovery actions on Curtains as appropriate
Assist the Supervisory Committee (internal audit) in their monitoring duties
Assist with member services functions as and when required
Maintain good customer service
The postholder must work within the policies and procedures of the credit union at all times.

The successful applicant must demonstrate that they have:

Direct experience of dealing with loan applications
Direct experience of credit control enforcement procedures
Excellent verbal and written communications skills
Accurate record keeping & reporting skills
A commitment to undertaking training and development
Good numeracy skills
An ability to use a range of ICT efficiently
Excellent telephone manner
An ability to work flexibly as part of a team
An understanding/commitment to equalities issues
A friendly, supportive yet assertive manner.

It is also desirable that applicants have:

A knowledge and understanding of the credit union movement
A commitment to the aims and objectives of the credit union movementClick here to find out more about the role and to apply. Applications must be received no later than 9am on Monday 25 March 2019.”

Season’s Greetings 2018

It’s that time of year again where we look back on the previous 12 months and raise a glass to the next.

Mince pie - Ethos public relations2018 has been an important one for us as we reached our 20th anniversary. It is hard for us to believe that we have been successfully running our business for over 20 years now, starting out as we did in a small back bedroom in Manchester.

As with any business, we have had challenges and frustrations along the way, but we’re proud to be here still, offering the ethical public relations services that mean so much to us.

Of course, the nature of our work has changed dramatically over the years and much more of what we do is now online, whether creating and writing websites, managing social media accounts or designing leaflets and promotional materials.

The last 12 months have been interesting ones, as we have welcomed new clients such as Refil, a Dutch company that makes recycled plastic filament for 3D printers, and EAE Aesthetics, which offers medical and cosmetic skin treatments in the Midlands. It is also rewarding to welcome back clients such as Co-operative Futures in Gloucester, which organises the Future Co-ops conference every two years and which we are proud to support and promote.

We continue to work with a number of local Shropshire-based organisations, as well as charities and credit unions in other parts of the UK. In fact, our client base continues to demonstrate that we are willing and able to work with organisations all over the UK, and beyond, to help them communicate their business.

The next year looks set to be turbulent not only for businesses in the UK but for people too. We, like many others no doubt, long for the return of certainty and stability, so we can get on with our work – and lives – without unnecessary worry and stress. If ever there was a time for strong political leadership, now is the time, and we would urge politicians of all persuasions to put the country first, before their own interests.

Of course, if past experience is anything to go by, we will all muddle through and the rollercoaster economy we have become used to over the last decade will continue to excite us one minute and scare us the next.

Our Christmas break begins at lunchtime on Monday 24th December and our office will be closed until Wednesday 2nd January 2019, although we will of course be checking our emails, social media accounts and text messages, so do stay in touch.

It’s now time for us to enjoy our customary mince pie and glass of sherry, so it only remains to wish all our clients, suppliers, friends and future clients Season’s Greetings and a very successful 2019.