Playing bingo is a key form of social interaction for many isolated and older people and our clubs will continue to provide this leisure service for generations to come. The strong ties we have with local communities influence our approach in this area: our colleagues go beyond the expected to support their customers, we champion charitable initiatives on a venue-by-venue basis and advertise employment opportunities locally, and we chose our Group-wide charity partner, Carers Trust, on the basis of its network of carers centres across the UK that support people doing vital unpaid work.
As a result of the pandemic, the understanding of the integral role we play in communities came into sharper focus. We made it a priority to keep supporting our customers even when our venues were forced to shut during lockdowns. As the pandemic restrictions eased, we were still keen to maintain this community focus. In the longer term, we want to maintain this momentum and we recognise that our customers and communities will continue to need support. While much of our activity has been driven locally and we will continue to operate initiatives on a venue-by-venue basis, we are working towards formalising a central strategy on community engagement and support. Our new Mecca Managing Director will play a significant role in developing this strategy.
Since 2014 Rank has been partnered with Carers Trust, a charity which works to improve services, support, and recognition for unpaid carers. During our partnership so far, the Group has raised £3,193,763.79 for the charity and supported 13,135 carers. In order to take ownership of a specific project to support the Carers Trust, we established Rank Cares Grants. Enabled by the fundraising efforts of our colleagues across the Group, we give grants to carers in three areas:
1. Carers Essentials Fund - carers can apply for grants towards the cost of vital equipment such as washing machines, cookers, fridge freezers or beds.
2. Carers Take Time Out Fund - giving carers time out from caring to relax, do something for themselves and recharge their batteries.
3. Carers Skills Fund - enabling carers to learn new skills to help them with caring or to return to work.
For a carer to receive a grant, they must submit an application with one of our 120 network partners around the UK. These applications are then reviewed by a Grants Panel. We invite colleagues from around the business to sit on these panels so that they can appreciate the impact of our fundraising and the importance of supporting carers.