Giving back to the community has long been a feature of our business and one which our people care deeply about. Recognising that the Covid-19 pandemic is at its core a human tragedy, we wanted to do more, working with our communities to deliver help where it is most needed. Our pledge to support the global response so far stands at more than $7 million, with contributions from our business and also from our charitable foundations in the UK and US, the Hiscox Foundation.
We have taken a phased approach to tackle the most urgent needs, supporting local efforts that can make the biggest impact. Initially, we focused on making targeted donations to help specific vulnerable groups or meet immediate needs, and ramped up support for our existing Hiscox Gives charitable partners worldwide. Since then, we have been establishing new partnerships that will help improve access to vital business services for small businesses, particularly in vulnerable communities, to help them survive and thrive beyond the current crisis. In the US, we also doubled our existing funding for local charity partners, and have encouraged every Hiscox USA employee to support the small business community by allowing them to claim $100 on expenses for purchases from their favourite small local business.
Making an impact on the ground
In the early stages of the crisis, through our Hiscox Foundations in the UK and US, we were able to respond quickly. We bought a ventilator for the King Edward VII hospital in Bermuda, we helped to provide hot meals for NHS frontline workers and we donated to St John Ambulance and Royal Voluntary Service in the UK, the Red Cross in Spain and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) funds worldwide.
Around the world, food banks have been among those providing a lifeline to the most vulnerable. The Trussell Trust supports over two-thirds of all food banks in the UK and our £50,000 donation supported food banks across the country including in locations close to each of our UK offices. We also donated to Age UK and Alzheimer's Society, Madrid food bank and charities such as Citymeals on Wheels in New York, who’ve been delivering nutritious meals to older New Yorkers.
School closures and disruption to childcare have put unexpected strain on families, and charities like Action for Children have been helping to keep children and young people safe and protect families facing financial insecurity as a result of the crisis. The charity welcomed the Hiscox Foundation UK’s £100,000 donation as ‘life-changing’ for the more than 387,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers they help every year.
Through the Bermuda Education Network, we also purchased tablets for those children attending West End Primary school who did not have computer access at home, ensuring all pupils were able to take full advantage of online learning.
Supporting our charity partners
Our local charity partners are doing an incredible job, many in the face of unprecedented demand for their services, and we have been proud to support them through this time. The Hiscox Foundation USA has doubled the amount of funding available for charitable activity through regional offices in the US, meaning $500,000 will be available to either support existing charitable partners or establish new ones at a local level.
In the UK, the Felix Project is one of three charities officially supported by our London-based employees since 2019, all of which received additional donations from our charitable Foundation in the UK. The charity redistributes unsold food for free to people suffering hunger and food poverty; during the pandemic it has scaled up an impressive emergency response, redistributing the equivalent of two million meals to the most vulnerable across the city since lockdown began. On receiving our donation, Will Savage from The Felix Project commented: “London is facing its worst hunger crisis in decades and we are feeding more people than ever before. Hiscox’s donation will make a real difference, enabling us to provide 91,300 meals to those who need them throughout London.”
Care homes have also come under intense pressure during the crisis and St Helena Hospice in Essex is close to the hearts of many of our Colchester employees, particularly those who may have experienced their care and support for loved ones first-hand. By donating money saved by not commuting or buying coffee, and with a £50,000 donation from the Hiscox Foundation UK, we’re proud to have helped our staff raise a significant sum for the hospice.
Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our employees is paramount at a time when feelings of loneliness and isolation, linked to depression and anxiety, are reported to be rising. York Mind is a longstanding partner of ours and has been instrumental over the years in helping us deliver our own mental health initiatives, and now the charity is working hard to support all those living in the city who may be experiencing mental health issues. The charity has been offering online support and counselling to those who need it and we’ve bolstered our partnership with them via a donation of £50,000 in recognition of the critical service they provide.
Partnerships to help small business thrive
In the US, we’re directing much-needed funds to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need to not only continue to operate, but to thrive beyond the current crisis. The Hiscox Foundation USA is providing $1,000,000 of funding through new partnerships with business organisations providing vital business resources and services to these communities, such as financial advice, micro-lending and guidance to access the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act's funding.
These organisations include Accion, which provides capital, coaching and connections to entrepreneurs; the Women’s Business Development Center, which offers technical assistance and financial advisory services, including micro-lending, to women and underserved communities; and the Women’s Business Enterprise Council, which serves established businesses by providing networking, programming, and financial consulting services.
We have taken a similar approach in the UK, where we are working with Swoop to improve small business access to funding, and with Business in the Community as part of their National Business Response Network which connects business support with community need.
Coming together across the industry
Working together with others across our industry, we’re helping raise £100 million through The Covid-19 Support Fund, established by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in the UK. The fund aims to provide swift financial support to community-based charities in partnership with the Charities Aid Foundation and a network of partners, with £20 million already pledged to the National Emergencies Trust to support their vital work on the frontline tackling the crisis.
Coronavirus is having a huge impact on us all and these are just some of the ways in which we are playing our part. We’re incredibly proud of our employees, who take pride in helping their communities, and taken together we hope these measures do just that.
Photo credit: Gary Hamill