Christmas With Court CollaborationsDecember 15, 2023
A community isn’t just made up of the people who live in it. It’s also about the businesses who are based in it – and how they interact with the society around them can have a huge impact on the community as a whole. That’s why we are very pleased to have Smurfit Kappa as a key supporter for free@last.
One of the bigger organisations in Nechells, Smurfit Kappa has been part of the area for over 160 years. Over that time their site has grown rapidly, as they play their part in recycling the paper and cardboard produced by a growing city, with over 200,000 tonnes now passing through the Mill each year and approximately 10% of this coming from the Birmingham area.
As they sit within the heart of the Nechells community, Smurfit Kappa has had a big impact on the lives of local families for generations. Over the years many employees have come from the Nechells area, with grandparents who remember their back gardens backing onto the paper stacks. They have also been a supporter of free@last since we launched in 1999.
Smurfit Kappa SSK is One of 10 recycling plants in Nechells. Last year they had a devastating fire that that took a number of days to get under control, impacting the families living nearby. But as Head of HR Maria Ryan said, “These are our neighbours, and we take seriously our duty of care to minimise any impact of our Operations on the local community. We realise how important community is, and how privileged we are to operate here. That privilege comes with a responsibility and so we are very pleased to be able to support free@last.”
And help they do. In recent years Maria has been a part of a careers event held at the free@last building, finding ways to offer work experience and support young adults to build their CVs. She also wants to promote their upcoming apprenticeship opportunities, ideal for anyone local who wants to find work near their homes.
Each year Smurfit Kappa donates to the annual Christmas celebrations that allow free@last to give Christmas lunch and a gift to families in the area. They provide free storage space for the equipment we use with the children. And they help in everyday ways such as hiring the facilities for their corporate events and meetings – bringing a sustainable income into the building.
Last year the Smurfit Kappa Foundation donated £30,000 to free@last, which was used to provide IT equipment, mountain bikes and climbing gear, all of which is used to enhance the lives of children in the area.
However, supporting free@last isn’t just about donations. Staff from the papermill worked alongside the children of Nechells on World Clean Up Day, litter-picking the local parks to make the community a clear and safer space.
Kevin Bussey, Managing Director for Smurfit Kappa, says, “It’s not just about money and donating a few hundred quid here and there. We have a workforce of 130 people here in the neighbourhood. We want to get our people involved and hands-on, so they feel a part of this community as well. That is what we want to see as a successful partnership.”
With so many industrial neighbours here in Nechells sitting alongside the residents, it’s wonderful that Smurfit Kappa value the importance of community, and we can’t wait to build an even stronger partnership in the future.