Co-founder of Birmingham’s Metro Bar & Grill, Chris Kelly, takes the subject of corporate social responsibility very seriously.
Here he tells Thrive why he is keen to support community projects throughout the city.
I believe any business that is serious about engaging its customers, neighbours and partners must demonstrate some element of CSR. Customers admire it, neighbours expect it and partners help deliver it.
Some businesses will say they give back or contribute for altruistic reasons, others because their staff or customers ask them to, but as for me,
I contribute because it’s the right thing to do and because I want to and because I am very familiar with some of the areas of the city that need support.
Born in 1959 my early years were spent growing up in Small Heath and Nechells, so I’m no stranger to areas of social deprivation, although of course, both of those areas are benefiting greatly from regeneration and investment now. I was fortunate enough to understand the benefits of a good education and a strong work ethic and with the support of my family, developed a flare for business which has stood me in good stead for many years.
However, many children today don’t have the family support to make the most of their education, or the facilities to develop their natural talents and social skills. It is that social network that I believe is so important to the development of communities and in turn the development of our future social structure.
For these reasons, Metro Bar & Grill has just started to work with the Birmingham Community Foundation, which does a lot of grassroots work with communities throughout the city.
We are sponsoring the annual fundraising Christmas carol concert and we are also working with the local community charity focused on opportunities at Nechells Baths, just the kind of thing that provides real help in the right way.
There is some good work being done there that has significantly reduced crime levels by 25 per cent in the area over the last two years – partly by giving the community more of a sense of pride and also by providing more opportunities for expression and development of young people.
One of the projects we are most proud of is the provision of a school for autistic children at the rear of our premises at Balsall Common.
We had a building that needed a new purpose and we were approached by two ladies who were heading up a charity from the village who asked if we would be willing to provide the building to be used as a school.
It seemed a great opportunity to give something back at a local level we agreed immediately, and we’re very humbled by the fantastic results they are achieving with such a simple input from ourselves, and their own limited resources.
I think it is incumbent on all businesses to give a little something, even if it’s only because it’s the right thing to do but more importantly because we can!