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Beryl and social value: beyond the schemes

From supporting community interest companies to homeless outreach charities and theatres, Beryl CEO Phil Ellis shares what being a B-Corp really means for its users.

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Author: Philip Ellis, CEO and Co-Founder, Beryl

When we deliver a micromobility scheme in partnership with a local authority, we believe our responsibility goes beyond merely providing a high quality sustainable transport network. 

We believe that we have an obligation to look for opportunities to integrate within the social fabric of the areas where we operate.

Last year, we were proud to announce our successful re-certification as a B-Corporation company for another three years. 

But what does that mean to our users? Why is it important and, ultimately, why should people care? 

Societal impact – a pillar of B-Corp 

On a basic level, to be B-Corp certified is to be recognised for meeting exceptional standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. 

The B-impact assessment evaluates how the company has acted on its commitment by reviewing five impact areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, Customers.

This means that we must not only operate sustainably, but also have a positive impact on the areas where we run schemes, valuing societal and environmental impact as equally as profitability.

We’ve grown a lot since we first started our journey as a B-Corp company three years ago and now have many multimodal schemes dotted across the UK. Such rapid growth has presented us with many opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to the certification.

How does Beryl add social value? 

We adopt a highly proactive approach to community partnerships, actively seeking out opportunities to integrate within the social fabric of the areas where we operate. 

For example, we work with the Hereford Cycle Hub – a non-profit organisation aiming to use cycling and the pleasure it brings to improve people’s lives in Herefordshire. We use Hereford Pedicabs and Cargo to manage our on-street operations in the city and they subcontract the maintenance of the bikes to the hub. People are then given the chance to learn new skills and hobbies by getting involved with the hub. 

Such schemes can not only boost people’s employability but can also provide a sense of purpose, self-worth and confidence that may have previously been damaged. 

Hub Founder, Dan Grice, said: “Hereford Cycle Hub was founded in 2014 by cyclists aiming to improve people’s lives in the county.

“Working with Beryl has helped us get a foot in, get a premises and since then we have gone on to work with employment charities and mental health charities. It has been a really successful partnership.”

Community Champions – helping those in need

Since 2020, we have also run our Community Champions project which supports local charities, not-for-profit organisations, community interest companies and community groups in the areas in which we operate. We currently operate 67 different partnerships across our schemes. Groups are given complimentary Beryl bike rides to help their day to day operation.

One of our most successful Community Champions initiatives runs in partnership with New Hope, a Watford-based homeless outreach charity. The free minutes given to New Hope to use our bikes and e-bikes, help their Outreach Plus team quickly respond to the needs of vulnerable people sleeping rough in and around the borough.

Using two-wheeled transport not only helps the charity save money, reduce their carbon footprint and access people in sometimes difficult to reach areas, it also contributes towards cutting road congestion and improving air quality. 

New Hope Outreach Plus Manager, Steve Devine, said: “The bikes enable us to respond to StreetLink reports and phone calls so much quicker than before and we have utilised them to go straight to a rough sleeper, meet with them and then bring them back to an outreach bed. 

“They really have been fundamental to our outreach service, allowing us to travel twice the distance in half the time. 

“Covering more ground has been very useful and positive especially during our monthly counts, reaching new distances and areas that were once hard to reach.”

Another organisation Beryl works with is the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford, who promote the arts locally via their extensive education and participation programme. They are keen to operate as sustainably as possible and claim that travel emissions are responsible for 75% of their carbon footprint. They provide minutes to their adult volunteers and production cast members, enabling them to travel to the venue in a healthy and sustainable fashion and avoid the city’s notorious traffic issues.

Actor Alfie French, who starred in the Courtyard’s festive production of Beauty and the Beast, was delighted to use the minutes. He said: “Beryl bikes have been perfect for me. I’m working in Hereford over the Christmas period and can get from one side of town to the other in ten minutes! That’s quicker than by car with all the traffic.” 

The future – widening social impact

With the company set to expand further over the coming months we will continue to seek more opportunities to deliver social value in both our new and existing scheme areas. 

We really believe in the power of the bike to improve the health and sustainability of our towns and cities; whether that’s rewarding volunteers, enabling sustainability projects, promoting physical and mental wellbeing or supporting people experiencing transport barriers and/or poverty.

To apply to participate in Beryl’s Community Champions scheme, click here.

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