Andy Beeforth, CEO of Cumbria Community Foundation, has developed a strong network of support during the pandemic and urges others in business to follow in his footsteps this new year

He writes: "I hope everyone has rested well over the holiday period? I think we all needed it. It’s time for making new year’s resolutions and re-setting the clock. The year ahead promises much of what businesses faced in 2021; challenges of recruiting and retaining staff, the regular ‘pinging’ of colleagues with Covid, supply chain issues and looming inflation.

People in business have had almost two years of constant adaptation. The same pressures exist in the charity world. If we’re going to thrive (or survive), we need to look after ourselves and our colleagues. I’m a member of an informal group of charity chief execs who meet every two months to chew the fat, or vegan nibbles, and share our challenges. I also meet with three other business leaders in the county to check in and discuss what’s happening in the county. I’ve also recently begun working with a coach. That alongside my supportive partner, and supportive work colleagues, helps keep me buoyant through most things.

So, my questions to you are, ‘where do you get support from?’ and ‘how do you keep your batteries topped up?’ and most importantly if you don’t have a network of support, ‘what are you going to do about it?’. I’d like to highlight two important themes that grew in significance during 2021, which I believe will become more and more important in the year ahead. The climate crisis and de-carbonising our economy is the biggest threat and challenge we face. The cost of inaction will be enormous, and the effects will be felt by those least able to adapt.

In Cumbria, climate change is likely to cause further flooding, challenge all aspects of farming and place increased costs on households and businesses. The Community Foundation’s Cumbria Club hosted an event in November which set out the challenges and also explained the county’s plans to reach net zero by 2037. A recording is available via I strongly encourage you to watch it and begin to start making positive changes at home and at work.

Issues of equity, diversity and inclusion will continue to challenge our county. A vibrant, creative, open and diverse workforce is key to business success. Sadly, we continue to live in a county where intolerance, bigotry and racism exist. I hope we can all go on a journey to better understand the effects that class, privilege, skin colour and other characteristics have on the likelihood of doing well at school, of finding a job or gaining a promotion. We have some incredible organisations like Anti-Racist Cumbria and Multicultural Cumbria that will help us on that journey to a fairer, more tolerant Cumbria. I’d like to share some words about a very special woman and role model who died on 11th November 2021. Ann Clark lived in Penrith, and I first met her in 2015 when she came to talk to me about the possibility of supporting local charities. Very straight talking, Ann shared with me the contents of her building society passbook and asked me if she had enough money to make a difference. That meeting seeded a friendship and a rich and fulfilling relationship between Ann and the Community Foundation. Ann had been a social worker and specialised in children’s services. She had worked in both Whitehaven and Carlisle and was keenly aware of the needs of young people and people with disabilities. In 2016 Ann created the Brian and Ann Clark Fund at the Foundation which to date has given out over £110,000 to local charities including Blackwell Sailing, Cumbria Wheelchair Sports and Sunbeams Music Trust. In 2019 Ann chose to endow her fund at the Community Foundation with a gift of £1M. Ann was a private woman and didn’t seek publicity. It took much persuading for her to agree to have her and her husband’s names associated with the Fund she created. I’m glad she agreed."