A Model Employer

Bournville is perhaps the most recognisable (if only by name) Birmingham location after Spaghetti Junction and Villa Park, probably due to its association with chocolate.  

Bournville, was the creation of the Cadbury family who in the late 1870s moved their thriving chocolate factory from central Birmingham to a green field site some four and a half miles away. Once the factory was established George Cadbury, who was dedicated to improving the working conditions and lives of ordinary workers, worked religiously towards ensuring healthier and happier lifestyles for his workers. The Cadburys were particularly concerned with the health and fitness of their workforce. Sports facilities at Bournville grew to include football, hockey and cricket pitches, tennis and squash racquet courts and a bowling green. Gradually women's and men's swimming pools were built and every young boy and girl joining the company was encouraged to become a good swimmer

In time the development at Bournville became the blueprint for many other model village estates around Britain, such as Saltaire and Port Sunlight.

These model villages date from a movement that saw some employers taking their duty of care for their workers out of the factory and offices and into every area of their employees’ daily lives. While not all employers went as far as building homes for workers to live in, many did provide for the care of workers through sports and social clubs, playing fields, subsidised canteens or luncheon vouchers. 

Many of these facilities are long gone, or in the case of the social clubs, now in private hands, disappearing in the tough days of the 1980s when high unemployment meant that competition for jobs was fierce and employee wellbeing and retention wasn’t such a concern.

However, recently the tide has been turning. Employers may no longer build houses and provide bowling greens for their employees but since the pandemic employers have become aware that they have an active contribution to make to their employees’ welfare and this stretches far beyond regular tea breaks and adequate ventilation.

As well as ensuring physical health and safety, employers can be proactive about improving their employees’ financial well-being to benefit their physical and mental health. 

Plugging the Savings Gap

The pandemic, including the furlough scheme revealed how few people in full time work had the safety net of a savings pot, rainy day money as it is sometimes known. While at the same time, those in the thrall of high-cost credit, credit cards and payday lenders, struggled to cope with decreased household income, causing misery that has not gone away rather has been exacerbated by high energy bills, increases in mortgage interest and the cost-of-living crisis. 

How can employers be proactive in offering help?

Since 2015 Churches Mutual Credit Union has provided access to ethical savings and affordable credit through payroll to employees of a variety of organisations within its common bond, from church-based charities with less than twenty staff, through diocesan Multi-Academy Trusts, to central church payrolls in the thousands. Direct deduction is by far the simplest way to start saving, as the funds are deducted and sent to the credit union before it reaches the employee’s bank account. Credit Unions such as Churches Mutual are ideally placed to respond to the level of financial anxiety that has occurred since the pandemic and to respond in a people before profit way. As one member told us:

“It can often feel that no one cares if and how you will survive. Sometimes, it can feel so demoralising that you wonder if you shouldn't just give in and give up. Thank you for coming alongside us, and providing us with crucial support just when we needed it most”

If you are an employer and would like to know more about helping your employees to save with Churches Mutual please contact us

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