Representatives from around 40 of Norfolk’s professional firms came together on Friday 11 November to mark the end of national pro bono week – an annual event to celebrate the breadth and impact of pro bono work carried out by professionals throughout the year.
The businesses are all members of Norfolk ProHelp – a network of professional firms that are committed to making a difference by offering their services for free to community organisations in need of support. It is a particularly significant occasion as, after over 10 years operating under the banner of Business in the Community (BITC), Norfolk ProHelp is in the process of becoming an independent Community Interest Company.
ProHelp is a network of professional firms committed to making a difference in their local community by providing free advice and support to the voluntary sector. It provides members with the opportunity to work alongside other professionals, as well as their peers, and provides a valuable one-stop-shop resource to community organisations seeking professional support. Norfolk ProHelp members include law firms, accountants, design agencies, surveyors and architects, who each year contribute around £150,000 worth of support to the voluntary sector.
Tricia Fuller, Group HR Director of Norse Group and Chair of Norfolk ProHelp said: “We have benefitted enormously from the support of BITC and being part of their wider business network. However, we feel that the time is right for us to go it alone and that working independently we will be able to provide more direct and tailored support to the communities of Norfolk that most need it. Our annual breakfast is an opportunity to celebrate some of the successful projects from the last 12 months, for us to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities we face, and to put forward some new ideas to strengthen the ProHelp offer. Norse Group is delighted to be sponsoring Norfolk ProHelp and ensuring that it continues to add value to both communities and our business members.”
Attendees of the breakfast also heard from Mark Pendlington, Chair of New Anglia LEP, who shared his thoughts on the importance of business and the voluntary sector working together to strengthen the local economy. Mark Pendlington said: “This is a great celebration of the enormous benefits that can be achieved when the business and voluntary sectors work well together. A thriving and growing economy means business has more resources to share with the voluntary sector, which already contributes close to £60m a year in commercial activity within our economy. Norfolk ProHelp provides the vital link that is really so important to helping community projects across the county get off the ground – projects that make a huge difference to peoples’ lives and make our region an even better place to live, work and learn. An impressive array of businesses large and small are already doing amazing work, and I’d urge even more to sign up, as Norfolk ProHelp embarks upon a new and exciting chapter which puts it on course for even greater success.”
The event also showcased projects that have received support from ProHelp members in 2016. Bruce Sigrist of Phase Three Goods has supported East Anglian Complementary Health with the development of a new website and has also provided Carers Council for Norfolk with a new visual identity. Bruce Sigrist said: “Providing design and development on behalf of Norfolk ProHelp has been a joy. Each venture comes from a place of real integrity, and helping them grow has been hugely rewarding. I’m very excited for both projects to be unveiled later this month, and to support both owners in making the best of their online and visual identities in 2017.”
Attleborough Amateur Boxing Club, which provides fitness training sessions to a variety of vulnerable client groups has been supported by A Squared Architects to design changing rooms, a shower block and a treatment room, and to redesign a cart shed into sleeping accommodation. Colin Kilby, Chair of the club said: “Paul from A Squared Architects has been a massive help to the ABC Project, pushing the project forward and making sure that the design and area of the project fits with our vision for the future. Paul has come up with many ideas to try to make the project as eco-friendly as possible, but taking into consideration that we have limited funds available, so it needs to be cost effective. It has been a pleasure to work with Paul and his company and we would be happy to work with them again in the future.”