In August, we supported the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Ireland with a €500,000 donation to the charity's Higher Education and Training Bursary. The bursary will help individuals who would not otherwise be able to access or continue in higher education. This substantial donation was made possible due to funding from the Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholars Trust, which was wound up in June 2016, as well as staff donations to The Florin Fund payroll-giving scheme, which has benefitted St Vincent de Paul since 1945.
In December, Bank of Ireland was the first retail bank in Ireland to receive the Age Friendly Ireland accreditation. All our Branches have spent time listening to their older customers to understand their requirements in line with the Age Friendly ethos. Each Branch has nominated an 'Age Friendly Champion', whose role is to promote age friendly actions in-Branch and act as an ambassador for the Age Friendly programme in the local community.
In 2016, we became the bank with the largest number of Crystal Marks ever awarded by Plain English and we also won the Chrissie Maher award. The Crystal Mark is given by Plain English to communications such as letters, brochures and web pages which they believe people will find easy to read and understand. In total, 548 bank documents have received a Crystal Mark from Plain English.
In the UK we provide simple, flexible and accessible financial services and products to customers – both directly and through partnerships with trusted, respected UK brands and intermediaries. In 2016, Bank of Ireland UK launched ‘Inspiring Partnerships’, which identified six ingredients that make partnerships successful – common purpose, trust, mutual respect, communication, complementary skills and problem solving – positioning ourselves as the UK’s Partnership Bank. Using case studies to illustrate each partnership ingredient, the concept of ‘Inspiring Partnerships’ was brought to life through videos and supporting articles. The videos were watched by many thousands of people, and reached more than one million followers on Twitter.
The Bank's talent really shone in November in Dublin's RDS, as 63 colleagues took to the stage to dazzle us with their dance performances. Over 700 colleagues, friends and family gathered to see the Bank's dancers, who were absolutely sensational and showcased dance styles from the Cha Cha to the Tango. The event raised a total of €40,000 for the Irish Heart Foundation.
In November, New Ireland Assurance, in partnership with Dublin City University’s (DCU) Ryan Academy, hosted a ‘funding Ireland’s future’ three-day event at the RDS. The event involved a team-based ‘hackathon’ over a weekend, where the 18-35-year-old attendees self-identified and analysed issues which have the potential to help young consumers shape their financial future. There were two first prizes awarded to competing teams Euphoria and Instavest. They are working with New Ireland and DCU Ryan Academy to test their solutions in a real-life setting.
In June, Bank of Ireland Group achieved the Business Working Responsibly Mark. Developed by Business in the Community Ireland and audited by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Mark assesses ‘best in class’ corporate social responsibility and looks at leadership, policies, practices, performance and impact across a wide range of indicators.
We understand how challenging it can be for first-time buyers to build up the deposit they need in order to buy their first home. In January, we launched MortgageSaver, which provides first-time buyers with a savings account, offering a 10% bonus when they drawdown a Bank of Ireland mortgage and making it easier to take that all-important first step on the property ladder.
In May, our new monthly Economic Pulse research was launched, bringing together the findings of consumer and business surveys in Ireland through a set of easy-to-communicate indicators. Bank of Ireland partners with the European Commission on the research. The surveys that inform the Economic Pulse are conducted with 1,000 households and over 2,000 businesses across the Republic of Ireland. The data provides valuable insights and since its launch the Pulse has charted changes in sentiment driven by economic and political events.
Young people are the future of our communities and are an important part of the Bank’s future. We have a range of activities that are designed to be usefuland engaging for our young people including Bizworld, an entrepreneurial programme for primary schools; Coderdojo – the community-based coding movement which we facilitate through our Branches; and Junk Kouture, a fashion design competition for 2nd level students. In September 2016, we became the first bank in Ireland to use the social media platform Snapchat to connect with our younger customers.