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19 June 2014

Stephens & George Print Group give back to their community

In February 2012, to mark one hundred years of printing in Merthyr Tydfil and the South Wales Valleys, Stephens & George Print Group, based in Merthyr decided to give something back to their community and founded 'The Stephens and George Centenary Charitable Trust'.

This was in direct response to the incredibly low literacy levels within the local community that were being found by S&G when trying to recruit apprentices. The Trust's core aims are to provide future generations with the means to develop skilled, useful and fulfilling careers for themselves from within one of the UK's most disaffected areas.

Their aims are:

1. Reading support volunteers and running training courses free of charge with regular reports from participating schools on the impact this programme has on raising literacy standards.

2. Work with schools to create artistic libraries, develop art students and teachers to build creative environments to engender a positive attitude to literacy.

3. A book donation scheme.

4. Newsletter Project - to work in partnership with relevant associations to develop a newsletter written by and for young people.

5. Literacy workshops.

6. Reading groups in the community.

7. Bursary awards.

8. Internship programmes.

9. Research.

As part of the Newsletter Project, Workshops and Internships, the aims of the Charitable Trust are to link in with various educational establishments and job placement agencies. So far S&G have utilised 3 English graduates for the part-time newsletter co-ordinator. One of whom has gone on to full time employment elsewhere, one is employed by S&G Print group as the social media executive and the other whilst completing the post graduate journalism course is still with the Charity as a paid newsletter co-ordinator.

There have been several undergraduates and graduates volunteering in the Charity over the past 2 years, 2 of whom have now moved into trainee estimator roles within that department of S&G Ltd.
They have also just completed their first internship programme with one of S&G's major paper suppliers Antalis UK for 2 young people, one of whom has just been employed by S&G as a trainee bindery manager.

The means-tested bursaries are for exceptionally gifted or academic young people either to forward education (higher or lower) or towards equipment to fulfil their potential. One example of this is a young man from a disadvantaged background who gained scholarship to Oxford to read music, and for whom we purchased his flute.

A recent initiative of the Charity was to introduce chess in schools. This has had a huge impact on behaviour and concentration levels within just 6 months.

Outside of the deliveries of the aims of the Stephens & George Centenary Charitable Trust, Stephens & George Print Group frequently gives people work experience and paid internships. As the largest privately owned company in the Borough of Merthyr Tydfil they endeavour to employ and develop people from the surrounding South Wales areas.

Vanessa Jones, Corporate Development Director at S&G says: "on a personal note we were not able to reach the people that we wanted within our community, however from an initial aim of wanting to change lives we as a Company have actually benefited by finding some wonderful young people who we can develop and train as part of our succession planning. We have also found that creating our own charity which impacts on our community has had an extremely positive impact on the workforces. Whereas before we were doing fundraising events for larger charities which our employees have never seen the benefits of, the now see that every pound we raise or is donated, gets put back into the community in which they live. Contributing to teamwork and self-esteem."

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