A company that has helped to make a difference by creating links between its workforce and the community has won recognition for its efforts.

Alcoa Europe FRP, aluminium plate manufacturers based in Kitts Green, won the 'Business Charter Award 2005' at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce's Annual Banquet.

The award celebrated the team's significant contribution to their community over the past year through the city's 'better together business charter'.

Alcoa MRP has got involved with various community projects that improve relationships, the environment and quality of life for employees and residents in Kitts Green.

Over the years, Alcoa has formed partnerships that have had a positive impact with local schools, hospitals, business and community. Many of its 450-strong workforce live within the local community and have helped to play a key role in the success of the projects.

John Smith, Training and Recruitment Manager, said: "Alcoa had for a number of years been involved in a process of continuous improvement, in which everyone works today to make the process and working environment better tomorrow.

"We recognised that this process could also be used in our neighbourhood to tackle some of the problems that we saw around us.

"This led to discussions with the local community, organisations and businesses.The question we asked ourselves was: 'Is this the environment we want our children to grow up and work in?' The answer was no! Alcoa had enthusiasm, willpower and more importantly, resource."

One of the first projects was a two-hour clean up, supported by 84 employees joined by 91 children and residents and launched by Alcoa's European President, Helmut Wieser.

Alcoa supplied safety equipment and tools and coordinated tasks that included removing graffiti, abandoned cars from the playing fields, maintaining pensioners' gardens and tackling general litter and rubbish. A fence was put up for a playgroup to improve outdoor safety.

Much work has been done since that initial event. Other initiatives include the installation by Alcoa of five CCTV cameras in the Glebe shopping area and six CCTV cameras in the Lea Village shopping area. Alcoa's security team monitor these cameras, free of charge, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and all incidents are reported to the police.

Jim Wallace, Manufacturing Manager, said: "We truly believe we are better together, and chair the Local Trader's Association Meeting which focuses upon improving the local business environment, investment in the local area and assistance in community projects for the local children.

"Our employees appreciate the local community work, as a large percentage live in the area.

"We run a suggestion scheme, so if one of our employees feels strongly about a good cause; they have the opportunity to make a suggestion a reality.

"It is a chance to make a difference and strengthen their reputation with people and the local community, who see their business everyday. Local customers will also view this work as a positive contribution to the local community.

John added: "Business in the Community and bettertogether.org.uk have been a major help in directing us to the needs of the community and generating ideas on how as a company we could contribute to key social issues.

"In sharing our experiences with others we have learned and gained a positive reputation that all employees are proud of and hopefully can build upon even deeper stronger relationships."

Business who want to join a growing network of businesses who are making a difference in their local communities thanks to the pioneering 'better together, Business Charter for Social Responsibility can visit bettertogether.org.uk, or contact 0121 451 2227 or email john. guilford-bitc.org.uk for further information.