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Businesses ranging from multi-national banks to an online tea shop are in the running for an award as London’s top responsible business gongs go ‘virtual’ for the first time. A total of 14 companies have made the shortlist for this year’s Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards, recognising firms which...

Businesses ranging from multi-national banks to an online tea shop are in the running for an award as London’s top responsible business gongs go ‘virtual’ for the first time.

A total of 14 companies have made the shortlist for this year’s Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards, recognising firms which go the extra mile to build strong community relationships, tackle disadvantage or inequality, promote inclusion or boost skills

This year’s applicants supported over 188,000 people, provided almost £3 million in support and mobilised volunteers who contributed over 13,000 hours to community groups and other worthy causes.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the prestigious awards, organised by the City of London Corporation, will for the first time be announced ‘virtually’ at an online-only event to be held in April.

Lord Mayor of London William Russell said: “I am always inspired and encouraged by the breadth and scope of the projects companies across the capital deliver to make a real difference to their communities and society as a whole, and this year is no exception.

“Now more than ever, as the effects of the pandemic continue to take their toll, businesses can play a vital role by utilising their resources, their ingenuity and their passion to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

This year’s ‘Dragons’ include a category recognising businesses which have responded in a particularly creative or innovative way to social issues prompted by the pandemic.

Shortlisted for that award are international law firm Hogan Lovells for a programme helping Newham residents access benefits and banking giant UBS for its work tackling food poverty with Hackney-based charity Chefs in Schools.

UBS is also shortlisted for its work for its work with The Skills Builder Partnership boosting youth employability, while other businesses in the running for an award include online tea retailer NEMI Teas, which partnered with charity Groundwork London for a project supporting refugees to find work.

Meanwhile, Shoreditch-based business management consultant WeAgile is shortlisted for the Heart of the City award after launching free online tutoring sessions to enable children to continue to learn during lockdown.

Monshur Ali, Co-Founder of WeAgile, said: “We are extremely honoured and delighted to be shortlisted for the prestigious Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award. Being on the finalists’ list acknowledges our team’s hard work and social impact during an incredibly challenging year for so many, and how far we have come as an organisation in our responsible business initiatives, that make a real difference to the communities we serve.”

Hertfordshire-based engineering and construction company VolkerFitzpatrick is in the running for a Boosting Social Impact award for its work with the charity CRASH to renovate the lounge at a homeless hostel in Canning Town.

John O’Grady, VolkerFitzpatrick Divisional Commercial Director, said: “We’re delighted to be a finalist and are very proud of what we’ve achieved in partnership with CRASH. With up to 140 residents staying at any one time, together we’ve left a legacy that will have a positive impact on so many people’s lives for years to come.”

City-based business analytics firm TrueCue is shortlisted in the Inclusive Employment category for a project aimed at getting more women into the data and technology industry.

Bingqian Gao, TrueCue Programme Initiator and Lead Organiser, said: “The nomination is an opportunity for us to share our endeavour in supporting and promoting diversity and inclusivity through action. I hope we inspire more people to pursue their professional goals and more organisations to think outside the box to create new initiatives to bridge the diversity and inclusivity gap.”

This year’s awards are being organised for the first time by Heart of the City, the City Corporation-funded charity which supports hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises with their responsible business programmes.

The awards are part of the City Corporation’s commitment to work in partnership with businesses, charities and neighbouring boroughs to create a more responsible, inclusive and competitive London.

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Shortlisted businesses:

Heart of the City Award

– WeAgile – Digital Used for Good

The Shoreditch-based business management consultant launched free online tutoring sessions to enable children to continue to learn while away from the classroom during lockdown.

– Red Ant – PhilANThropy

The software firm, based in Southwark, set up a volunteer committee to enable staff to volunteer for community projects and to enhance workplace wellbeing.

– Signature Recruitment

The City of London-based recruitment consultant started an apprentice scheme, hiring apprentices from local providers and using apprenticeships to upskill the current workforce with practical expertise on CVs, interviews, applications and professional etiquette among other topics.


The Lord Mayor’s Award for Innovation During Covid-19

– Hogan Lovells – The Social Welfare Workshop

The City law firm scheme offers support to residents in the London Borough of Newham to complete welfare benefits forms, initially in person but during lockdown via a remote service by telephone.

– UBS and Chefs in Schools – Tackling Food Insecurity

The City-based bank partnered with Hackney charity Chefs in Schools to deliver healthy, nutritious food to vulnerable families during the pandemic.

– onHand and Lambeth Council – Doing Good During Covid

The creator of the volunteering app which aims to be an ‘Uber for volunteers’ partnered with Lambeth Council to deliver food parcels to residents isolating during Covid


Boosting Social Impact Award

– VolkerFitzpatrick

The Hertfordshire-based engineering and construction company worked with construction industry charity CRASH to renovate the lounge at a hostel run by homelessness charity Caritas Anchor House in Canning Town, Newham.

– Q5 – Pop-Up Consulting Initiative

The Westminster-based business management consultant offers pro-bono support for charities and small and medium-sized businesses which need help but can’t afford consultancy fees.


Inclusive Employment Award

– TrueCue – Women in Data Hackathon

The project run by the City-based business analytics firm brought together women interested in data and technology, offering opportunities and resources to learn more about the industry.

– Project Imagine

The Shoreditch-based e-money institution launched in 2018 with the aim of creating a more equitable financial future for people across the UK, helping them understand money and be more financially secure.


Community Partners Award

– NEMI Teas – Changing Journeys

The retailer of speciality tea and biodegradable teabags partnered with community action charity Groundwork London for a project supporting refugees living in the capital to find work.

– City Year UK

The Islington-based youth and education charity supports pupils from disadvantaged communities to succeed through a year-long leadership development programme for volunteer mentors.

– The Skills Builder Partnership & UBS – A Decade of Championing Essential Skills

The Bethnal Green-based non-profit skills-building organisation, supported by UBS, develops teaching resources and capacity-building support and training to schools to boost young people’s employability.


Regional Impact Award

– Marsh & McLennan – Surviving to Thriving

The US-based global professional services firm delivered projects supporting young people in Birmingham and Leeds, supported business resilience and influenced policy around young refugee support.

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