Collective strength: How business and communities can work together through Place-based working

Kirstie Mackey, of Barclays UK, on how collaboration between businesses and other stakeholders can create thriving economies – and the steps the bank is undertaking to achieve this

The UK has the skills, ambition and entrepreneurialism to succeed, but we will only do so if we focus on meeting the challenges we face in a truly inclusive way.

As a UK-wide business, Barclays works at a local level to identify the opportunities and challenges to creating thriving economies. We focus on the skills and needs of all people; whether entering the world of work for the first time, looking to start or grow a business, looking to change career, or to keep working in later life. 

To achieve this, working in collaboration is imperative, focusing on bringing all kinds of businesses and other stakeholders together to help understand those opportunities and challenges in a place, identify who is already working to tackle the key issues, and how we can get involved. This enables the community to leverage collective strengths and expertise to understand and enable people to own their own solutions, innovate through listening, co-design by involving those who will be impacted by our work. All of this will happen while reviewing and refining our approach. 

Barclays has launched Thriving Local Economies in Kilmarnock, Scotland, a programme that aims to join forces with local authorities, academics, schools and business groups to boost economic growth, to ultimately enable every part of the UK to prosper. It seeks to ensure that every part of the country can fulfil its potential and better understand how businesses can play a role in helping local economies thrive. We launched our first major support for Kilmarnock with a LifeSkills programme for 12-14-year-old students across secondary schools in the town, and Business in the Community (BITC) joined us to kick start this programme, with our Chief Executive Officer, Jes Staley. 

We will support businesses on the ground, over and above our lending to them, as they seek to adapt and grow in the new economy – helping to take advantage of the opportunities that being truly integrated in communities provides. We are launching four pilots in different types of economies: metropolitan, small towns, rural areas and coastal areas, to help identify the drivers of, and barriers to, success. Working with others in the community, we will commit to take actions in each place, to help businesses and the economy to grow. 

Bury was chosen as the first pilot area in 2018. Over a three-year programme, we are now working closely with Bury Council, schools, business, and community and voluntary groups, to develop further projects that will look to support small business growth and prepare Bury with the skills needed for the future. We are taking a collaborative approach to understanding the issues, innovating new approaches to address these, and sharing our successes and learnings within Bury and more widely. 

I am delighted to represent Barclays on the BITC Place Leadership Team and proud to support the launch of the guide to delivering a Place-based approach to support other businesses learn from what has worked for others. Its only through long-term collaboration that we can begin to shift the dial in places that need support. I am excited to be part of the senior leadership group taking on this challenge and actively working across our business to bring others – from across all sectors - to the table to collectively harness the opportunities and empower communities to create the places that work for them. 

Kirstie Mackey is Director of Citizenship & Consumer Affairs, Barclays UK. Kirstie is responsible for citizenship and consumer affairs for Barclays UK with a particular focus on skills and business growth