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Norwich’s business connector shares plans to help major issues in “his city”

PUBLISHED: 16:17 17 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:17 17 February 2017

Robin Tungate is the Business in the Community business connector for Norwich. Picture: Mark Shields

Robin Tungate is the Business in the Community business connector for Norwich. Picture: Mark Shields

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Creating and nurturing relationships between Norwich’s businesses and its community organisations will be key in tackling its biggest issues, according to the city’s business connector.

Robin Tungate has been in the post – part of a Business in the Community programme – since September last year, acting as a link to enable the transfer of skills, volunteers and materials between local firms and the communities they serve.

Having spoken to around 110 businesses and community organisations so far, he believes he has begun to lay the “foundations” to target key issues including social mobility, unemployment and homelessness, with schemes including the development of websites and apps, and the donation of storage space, unused equipment and obsolete stock.

Mr Tungate, who was born and raised in Norwich, said: “I want to help my city.

“There have been about 250 business connectors nationally so it is a tried and tested formula which is reaping results in the community.

“There is a lot of evidence that if your business engages with the community, it thrives.”

Current projects include inviting businesspeople into primary schools to speak to students about the world of work, and a drive to collect shoes and employ hairdressers to help the city’s homeless.

He is also working with Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner on a “gateway to employment” project, encouraging businesses to offer jobs and work experience to ex-offenders.

Managed by Business in the Community, the national programme employs civil servants and businesspeople to serve deprived areas and launched in Norfolk last year, with connectors offering their free services in Norwich, Thetford and Great Yarmouth.

Alongside the benefits of community engagement and publicity, Mr Tungate said the initiatives could also help businesses to address skills gaps in their workforce.

“There are certain skills that you cannot develop in the workplace – it could be leadership skills, communication skills. These are all things employees can bring back to the workplace from community engagement. It will benefit not only them but their employer.”

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