Share your story – Backup: a small charity setting high standards

Written by Investors In People

Share your story – Backup: a small charity setting high standards

Backup North West is a registered charity for young people aged 16-25 who are homeless. Offering excellent standard accommodation plus a variety of support packages to meet all levels of needs and issues. 

The aim is to ensure young people are not homeless and are equipped with the skills and knowledge for independent living while in temporary accommodation.

Backup has a staff team of 67 people. Plus 20 more sessional workers and 18 volunteers. To deliver exceptional services to young people and make a lasting difference in their lives, they have to recruit exceptional staff and look after them.

We spoke to CEO Maura Jackson about what winning would mean to their team and what the future holds.

Can you give us a brief description of how you’re making work better?

Backup has tried to challenge stereotypes of working in the charitable sector by making the best use of resources and making working for a charity beneficial by providing:

  • Support for personal development through job shadowing, secondments and promotions
  • Private care health package
  • Team away days – three a year
  • Team lunches – two a year
  • Clear reward and recognition policies
  • Clear staff welfare policies
  • Access to free counselling
  • Extra mile awards every quarter and an annual award.
  • We work inclusively, supporting contributions from all colleagues.
  • Annual staff surveys with feedback about next steps

Why did you enter The Investors in People Awards 2021?

We entered and have been shortlisted under two categories: 

  1. Employer of the Year GOLD
  2. Third sector award

We gained GOLD accreditation in 2020 for the third time. (2014 and 2017) This is worth celebrating by itself. But the fact we are a charity but operate as a business, with ethics and values, makes us stand out. The desire to invest in colleagues is mirrored in how we invest in clients as it is a people-centred service. 

I entered the organisation for both categories because I want my colleagues to receive recognition for excelling in the third sector. Backup demonstrates best practices as a provider and employer.

Being a finalist also shows stakeholders that we, a relatively small entity,  achieve high standards, as validated by the IiP brand, which is globally recognised. 

Are there any goals or challenges you hope an award will help you achieve or solve? 

To help us achieve one of 4 themes of our business plan objectives, raising the organisation’s profile.

  1. To help us secure more networks and partnerships, the 2nd theme of our business plan.
  2. To maintain our great reputation.
  3. To lead us into 2022 on a high as we celebrate our 30th anniversary next year.
  4. To support our offer of added value when we bid for our tender in March 2023.

Tell us what distinguishes you from other companies in the category you’re shortlisted in.

  • Backup demonstrates within all areas of its work organisational kindness.
  • The strapline is “nothing is too much trouble”. 
  • Backup excels in its contractual obligations; outcomes for young people.
  • We support people within clear boundaries, targets and goals.
  • Our values are included in all areas of work, recruitment, training, retention, service delivery etc. (commitment, honesty, empathy, empowerment, resilience, respect and support).
  • Having a strong welfare culture, no blame approach never negates from the job at hand.
  • Our vision starts with the concept we are working in young people’s homes; they are not just in our place of work.

What does being shortlisted mean to everyone at your company?

It doesn’t take much to make me cry; I am quite emotional. The day we were informed about making it to the shortlist for two awards, let alone one, I was beside myself, especially as I am also personally shortlisted for one.

I think to come at a time when we have all reached covid fatigue, having delivered front line services at 100% throughout the pandemic, was amazing. It has reminded colleagues that we are incredible and hard work pays off. 

The message I give them is that their daily efforts do not go unnoticed and that we are shortlisted amongst some heavyweight organisations and should be proud.

What would it mean to win?

I can hardly imagine winning either of these; it feels surreal. It would be marvellous as the impact would be far-reaching for Backup, beyond a celebration of great work, but a long-lasting, on record acknowledgement that we are the best of the best and that despite being small, with limited resources and being a charity – you can still aim high and be aspirational and work towards being an exemplary employer.

It will also support our sustainability plans. IiP offers huge kudos, which will open doors for us where we can grow and help others.

How does being shortlisted benefit your customers?

Being shortlisted supports sustainability and added value in future applications for contracts and funding.

It also reassures stakeholders that the organisation is credible, cares about colleagues, delivers quality and highly skilled staff.

And reassures Trustees and other stakeholders that we are willing to learn, improve, and be assessed operationally.

How would you use being the recipient of this award to influence others?

Through press releases, blogs, social media and our events, we can promote the benefits of being involved with IiP. We can support others aspiring for accreditation by sharing our best practice, formally or informally. 

I will use it in applications for funding and contracts. The logo will be visible in our materials as this is something to be celebrated and is a symbol of excellence. Promote our social enterprise, The Van, trading selling hot drinks and cake locally.

What can we expect to see from your organisation in the next 12 months? (And beyond!)

We are completing a 12-month programme internally to drive and improve quality in all areas of work called Back to Basics, which started September 21 with the launch of our new 3-year business plan. 

A series of workshops means every colleague will have met with and discussed quality, consistency and the vision for the next three years with the CEO.

The results of these consultations will be shared at the staff away day February 2022 when the next 12 months targets, vision and plans are launched using all the data gathered through the workshops.

For example, we have discussed what qualities are required for the ideal backup colleague, and how they can work together to achieve the organisational vision.

What advice would you give to anyone applying for The Investors in People Awards 2022?

Do it. Plan your application but just do it. You never know!

View more of our awards finalist stories on our awards page.

About Investors in People

Investors in People have been working with a huge range of big and small organisations from Public Sectors, SMEs, Charities, PLCs and anything in between for over 30 years. We have accredited more than 50,000 organisations and our  accreditation is recognised in 66 countries around the world, making it the global benchmark when it comes to people management. So we know we speak your language and can offer the specific kind of support and guidance your organisation needs.

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14th Nov 2023 | Old Billingsgate, London



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