June 18, 2020 @ 8:51 by Chloe Holmes
Three North East firms continuing to push through the coronavirus pandemic have joined forces to tackle the deepening crisis in community sport.
Technology solutions provider Advantex, engineering consultancy RWO Associates and sport organisation GiveToLocal are working together to support grassroots sport.
And a common resilience has persuaded all three that it is possible to make a difference despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re a technology solutions provider so we are used to dealing with challenges,” explains Steve O’Connell, Sales And Marketing Director, Advantex.
“When Boris Johnson said work from home if you can, we made the immediate decision to close our office. We decided it was no longer accessible or useable and all members of staff were told to work from home.
“We invoked our full disaster recovery plan and within 24 hours we had everyone set up and working securely from home.
“It was great to see our workforce adapt so well. The next step was to ensure that our clients were in exactly the same position.”
Gateshead-based Advantex is continuing to provide state-of-the-art, affordable technology solutions which help to mitigate and monitor the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Clients include Sunderland and Middlesbrough football clubs, Hitachi Rail, Veterans In Crisis and cable management experts D-Line.
And Steve adds: “Faced with COVID-19 we knew the landscape hadn’t changed in terms of cyber security. But the way that we worked had to change.
“Suddenly people used to operating in the office environment – and sitting behind huge corporate firewalls – were working from home. We had to make sure they could do that safely and securely.”
Advantex’s ability to pivot in the face of potential adversity has been matched by RWO Associates. The Tyneside-based engineering consultancy specialises in civil engineering, structural engineering and flood risk assessment and works with clients including Bellway, Taylor Wimpey, Gleeson Homes and Galliford Try.
Managing Director Ross Oakley adds: “We already had the infrastructure in place to cope with the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.
“What we lost was the face-to-face contact with clients and that’s something that’s always been so important to us.
“Now we’re in a position where we can attend sites again and react to certain situations in person.
“It’s still not where we’d like to be but things are improving. I think the best thing I can say about how our staff have reacted to the challenge of the last few weeks is that it’s been business as usual. They’ve been tremendous.”
If both Advantex and RWO have been able to ride the coronavirus storm relatively unscathed then both firms are acutely aware of the specific challenges facing community sport.
Cue positive conversations with GiveToLocal’s newly-installed Corporate Relationships Manager, David Broom, and a fresh commitment to supporting grassroots sport.
Dave O’Connell, Operations And Finance Director, Advantex, explains: “We work alongside Middlesbrough and Sunderland football clubs as well as a number of smaller teams and grassroots clubs across various sports.
“We’ve always supported local teams. We understand just how important it is for clubs to be supported by the local business community.
“We sponsor a girls’ football team in Boldon and we’re very proud to have our names on their shirts.
“Then there are times when members of staff ask if we can spare a couple of hundred pounds to support their child’s school team or club and we do what we can.
“We want to support the community spirit that underpins grassroots sport.
“Working with GiveToLocal enables us to spread that support far more widely.
“It’s an opportunity for us to work with far more people and see so many more teams and communities benefit from the power of grassroots sport.”
David and the North Tyneside-based GiveToLocal team is working with more than 44,000 teams across 10 sports nationwide after launching last year.
Earlier this month the ambitious grassroots sport service revealed a new £2m giveaway, pledging to provide 20,000 teams with £100-worth of kit.
And GiveToLocal’s resilient response to the COVID-19 crisis resonates with RWO’s Ross.
“We look to support grassroots sport every year and usually pick two or three teams or clubs that might need our help,” he adds.
“GiveToLocal gives us the opportunity to reach a far wider grassroots sport audience and potentially help so many more local communities.
“That’s what really appeals to me.
“I was very impressed with the way that GiveToLocal responded to the coronavirus crisis.
“David and the team made a really positive move by opening up the service to more sports.
“And the giveaways have been fantastic. Whatever the sport and whatever the age, kids love new kit.”
David joined GiveToLocal last month with a brief to galvanise a business community central to the recovery and long-term success of grassroots sport following the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and progressive conversations so far,” he says.
“Firms like Advantex and RWO Associates can do so much to help kickstart grassroots sport in the weeks and months to come and we look forward to building mutually beneficial partnerships with two pillars of the North East business community.
“GiveToLocal is committed to creating a like-minded community of corporate partners focused on making a real difference to the thousands of players, coaches, parents and volunteers who make grassroots sport a reality, week in, week out.”
For more information on how your business can work alongside GiveToLocal contact David Broom at firstname.lastname@example.org.