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British Heart Foundation Blog

9 April 2020

From a background in education and operations my arrival at Unite was not just into a new company but into a new career. My passion for working with young people, sustainability and social investment led me to Unite’s door and I’m pleased to report that I was not disappointed.

I was delighted to learn of the value and focus that Unite places on responsible business practices throughout all areas of the company. Up to uS is the mantra that ensures responsible business objectives are at the forefront of how each of our people deliver their roles, ensuring that this is done in a way that puts our stakeholders’ interests first.

To maximise the impact of our responsible business activity we always ensure our actions, policy making, and implementation are strategically sound. I don’t believe there is a greater example of this than the partnership we have with the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Since 2017 we have worked with the BHF in a stock donation scheme. Our students are encouraged to donate unwanted items instead of sending to landfill. To date we have raised a staggering £930,000 in donations for the BHF to aid lifesaving research. But the success doesn’t stop there as this has saved almost 2 million kg in CO2 gas emissions by diverting 191,775kgs of materials from landfill, that’s 35 African elephants.

Karen O’Donoghue, the Head of Retail Partnerships at the British Heart Foundation, describes these successes as,a brilliant achievement by everyone involved in raising such a fantastic amount of money over 3 years. Unite Students have been instrumental in communicating with students to encourage them to donate items they no longer want. We look forward to helping each other achieve more record-breaking results and achieving more sustainable milestones.”

Karen’s words ‘helping each other’ really hit the nail on the head as for a corporate and charity partnership to have true impact it needs to be mutually beneficial. For us, this partnership serves a clear business need by reducing our waste to landfill, at the same time it allows us to be responsible and do the right thing. It has also created volunteering opportunities with over 500 hours of employee time given to local BHF retail shops.

Our CFO Joe Lister understands the value of such partnerships, “Continuing to improve our environmental and social impact is important to us and this initiative provides a great way for both Unite and our students to make a positive contribution. Each year when students move out of our accommodation, they find themselves with a large number of items which for practical reasons it simply doesn’t make sense to take with them. Most are keen to see things not go to waste, so our partnership with the BHF provides the perfect solution.”

We hope that this is the year we can hit the £1 million milestone in donations for the British Heart Foundation, especially now we have welcomed our Liberty Living colleagues, raising our total property number to 74. We are keen to develop, grow and adapt alongside the BHF, furthering our mutually beneficial outcomes, and reaffirming that Up to uS is just how we do business.


– Vicki Fry, Social Impact Manager