Northumberland Estates aims to forge closer links with the community

Northumberland Estates is making efforts to forge closer links with the local community.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 4:45 pm
Alnwick Castle. Picture by Judith Hardisty.

Management at Northumberland Estates, which represent the business interests of the Duke of Northumberland and the Percy family, has embarked on a new community relations drive in recent months.

It had adopted a self-regulating business model which helps a company become socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders and the public.

Part of that initiative is the creation of a new community engagement and education officer post, held by Vanessa Proudlock, who recently gave a presentation to Alnwick Town Council.

“It might come as a surprise to some but Northumberland Estates were doing a lot of community and social responsibility (CSR) work before they created this post,” she explained.

“There are a lot of things happening in the community, quite often under the radar, but a lot of the help and support given to organisations locally isn’t common knowledge.”

She felt that Northumberland Estates had received a lot of negative press which needed to be balanced against some of the positive work it is involved in.

“In the past community engagement was quite limited and, over the years, there maybe hasn’t been the best relationship with the local community at times,” she conceded.

As a result, Northumberland Estates engaged a brand communications company to help decide on the CSR approach which included the creation of Vanessa’s post.

The Estates has created a community fund which, although still to be finalised, will provide grant aid to local organisations.

It has also named HospiceCare North Northumberland as its first charity of the year.

“We will be actively fund-raising for the hospice during the course of the year and look forward to working with them in 2020,” said Vanessa.

Each department of the Estates has also been tasked with holding two CSR events by the end of the year.

Vanessa revealed that 80 affordable homes had been built in Northumberland within the past year, while staff had raised £4,000 for the RNLI from a charity bike ride.

More schools engagement is also being undertaken, while approaches have been made to various community groups including Alnwick’s football and rugby clubs.

“What we would like, over the years, is to build the castle in the community,” she said. “Real progress has been made over the past few months. Management and staff are very keen to engage with the local community and we also intend to reach out across wider Northumberland over the course of the next year too.”