FROM help with reading and donating iPads to digging gardens and spreading Christmas cheer, businesses across Wythenshawe stepped up to inspire young people in 2021.

Charity and membership group BW3 has looked back on 12 months in which companies of all shapes and sizes did their bit to support their community.

The organisation – founded more than 20 years ago – is made-up of more than 200 members, and was determined not to let the pandemic get in the way of the support provided to Wythenshawe.

Many of BW3’s existing projects continued, including its flagship Aspirational Mentoring scheme, which was delivered to a student at St Paul’s High School with special educational needs for the first time. The mentoring – supported by an employee from Manchester City Council – has had a transformational impact on the young person and there are now plans to roll out the offer in 2022.

A new addition to BW3’s programme in 2021 was a Reading Mentoring project, delivered in partnership with The Shannon Trust charity. During the year, 18 mentors were trained from a range of organisations and completed courses that improved the literacy skills of year seven students at a critical time in their development.

The scheme will be built on, so even more people can benefit, this year.

Charlotte Cooper, Assistant Head, Saint Paul’s – which is BW3’s school of the year – said:

“We are delighted to report that 77% of pupils on the programme made progress when comparing the baseline testing data to the most recent reading tests. We look forward to continuing our relationship with BW3; due to the success of the programme will be expanding the number of mentors and pupils over the coming weeks.”

BW3 members were also asked to help provide Christmas presents for St Paul’s pupils who might not get presents at home. Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Manchester Credit Union and the Wythenshawe District Nurse Team donated to the appeal.

A donation of £2,000 was also received from Amanda Fearne, of WPA Healthcare Practice, for sports and activity equipment to support students at St Paul’s.

Despite the various lockdowns of 2021, Button Lane Primary School students also enjoyed a virtual question and answer session with BW3 chair Adam Jupp, who is also communications director at MAG.

Meanwhile donations of tablets and laptops were made to a number of schools, with the largest pledge from Endress+Hauser.

In terms of other support provided by members, local charity The Message Trust’s Community Grocery was connected to BW3 members and contacts, with Amazon pledging £1,000 to extend the grocery. The Authentic Food Company also started giving surplus frozen items

BW3 Christmas

Members also showed they were happy to get their hands dirty, by supporting the development of a new outdoor space to grow fruit and vegetables at the Hub, a new area being developed at Manchester Enterprise Academy.

Adam Jupp. BW3 chair said:

“The breadth of activity delivered really hammers home how much positive impact the business community can have over the course of a year. There was a real determination among our committee – and membership – to continue with the fantastic schemes we deliver each year, as best as we could.

“It was also brilliant to see new initiatives like the Reading Mentoring scheme get launched, which is already having an unbelievable impact. Coupled with the kind donations of members, at a time when the community needs it most, the last year really demonstrated was BW3 is all about.”

Another key strand of BW3’s work is helping companies in the area grow through sharing knowledge and networking. The charity continued with its Wythenshawe Business Gateway events, taking them virtual for the first time. Four separate events were held, with more than 210 guests attending. Speakers ranged from former City Council leader Sir Richard Leese to Airport managing director Karen Smart.

BW3 once again worked with Alliance Manchester Business School, this time on two research projects to help inform the activities it delivers in the future. One looked at the employability needs of young people, and the other on how the needs of the community had changed since the pandemic.