The Gloucestershire Gateway Trust - the charity partner behind the multiple award-winning M5 Gloucester Services - celebrated its 10th birthday by handing over the first of many major grants to local community groups.
The Trust, led by Chief Executive Mark Gale, forged a ground-breaking relationship with the Cumbria-based Westmorland Family which led to the opening of the Gloucester Services in 2014.
“We could not have found a better partner for this whole project,” said Mark. “Westmorland are totally committed to supporting communities, whether in Cumbria or Gloucestershire. It was the perfect match.”
Part of the unique business and charity partnership means the Trust will be able to plough an estimated £10m share of the Services’ turnover over the next 20 years into local community initiatives.
The first £60,000 has just been handed over - £10,000 each to the Trust’s six core community partners: the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, The Nelson Trust, GL Communities, Play Gloucestershire, All Pulling Together in Stonehouse and Fair Shares Time Banking.
Each of these six partners will get a total of £100,000 from the Trust over the next five years, making their work supporting local people and the environment more sustainable.
The Trust also supports two community hubs, the Matson Gateway in Gloucester and All Pulling Together in Stonehouse as well as the Matson and Robinswood Residents Group, a Growing Communities project on land at the Northbound Services and a range of training and volunteering opportunities for local people to boost their chances of getting a job at the Services and in other sectors such as childcare.
Many other local community initiatives, particularly in the Trust’s target areas of Matson and Robinswood, White City, Podsmead, Tuffley and Stonehouse, will also benefit from the Gloucester Services funds in future. About a quarter of Gloucester Services’ 400 staff have been recruited from these communities.
“As community organisations struggle to fund vital work, receiving a guaranteed annual income will make a huge difference to their sustainability. We want this funding to strengthen our partners and be a catalyst for more community action in our target neighbourhoods,” said Mark Gale.
The Trust’s 10th birthday celebratory dinner at the Houses of Parliament welcomed Gloucestershire Gateway Trust Trustees, Westmorland Family directors and managers, Gloucester Services staff and local residents, and representatives from all six community partners.
Other guests included a number of charitable trusts including the Tudor Trust and the Summerfield Trust, which provided the Gateway Trust funds to get the whole idea of a motorway services which benefits local people, off the ground.
Mark added: “Ten years ago, the idea of opening a motorway services which would generate opportunities and improvement in local communities, in addition to hundreds of new jobs, was still a dream.
“The idea had been simmering for at least ten years before that, but the Trust needed significant funds and determination to bring the concept forward and to find the right business partner. The Westmorland Family share our vision for generating community benefit, and thanks to the money now coming in from Gloucester Services, we’re able to start backing local residents and community organisations to build stronger neighbourhoods.
“The relationship between the Westmorland Family and the Trust is not just about charity donations, it is a more fundamental way of connecting business and community for the benefit of both. Together we are much more than the sum of our parts. We have so much to be proud of in this project.”
Sarah Dunning said “Gloucestershire Gateway Trust’s 10th Anniversary is a great celebration. Without the Trust, Gloucester Services would never have come to fruition and it was a big team effort to get it off the ground.
"Gloucester Services now employs up to 400 people, with a quarter of those coming from the charity’s target communities. We hope that with our continued partnership, we will be able to work on many initiatives in the future which support those needing jobs and bring investment back into our local communities."