Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Community Conscience Is Good for Business; Following the Philosophy of His Predecessors in the Greggs Hot Seat Means Ken McMeikan Is Making a Name for Himself as a Boss with a Social Conscience. KAREN DENT Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Community Conscience Is Good for Business; Following the Philosophy of His Predecessors in the Greggs Hot Seat Means Ken McMeikan Is Making a Name for Himself as a Boss with a Social Conscience. KAREN DENT Reports

Article excerpt

INCLUDED in Greggs' latest financial results was the news that the baker had created a full time job for one of the homeless people it has been working with.

The Newcastle-based company is signed up to a Business Action on Homelessness project that was launched almost a year ago under the Business in the Community (BITC) banner, and run by Newcastle charity the Cyrenians with pounds 250,000 in funding from the Northern Rock Foundation.

As one of the lead businesses involved, Greggs supplies mentors and work placements for people on the Ready For Work scheme, which aims to get people back into the world of employment after they have been homeless.

Since the scheme started last September, 38 people have been placed with companies in the region, which along with Greggs also includes the likes of M&S, KPMG, NRG, Sage, Carillion and Barclays Bank. Of the placements, 31 completed their work experience and 22 have secured employment.

Greggs chief executive Ken McMeikan said: "This was reviewed at Business in the Community and the North East scheme is the national leader for the number of work placements who then go on to secure employment.

"They thought that was just magnificent.

We've had one job and we've had four people on placement - it's work experience and also confidence.

"We give them a write-up at the end and also a recommendation. All four of them have gone on to secure employment."

Three of the participants are now working for other companies and Greggs employed the other on its IT helpdesk.

"He is doing an outstanding job and he is just a fantastic contributor," says McMeikan.

The project, where businesses also provide mentors to work with those on the scheme, has three years of funding from the Northern Rock Foundation.

"At the end of the three years, we will go back and look for further funding. My guess that in the current economic climate is that the need will still be there," says McMeikan.

"The Northern Rock Foundation will be looking to see that the money it invested was very well spent. It's very powerful that it is not just one company, it is a number of companies working together.

"I think the Northern Rock Foundation will be encouraged that other businesses working with the Cyrenians are so committed to it."

McMeikan's interest in working with homeless people originally arose after he attended the Prince of Wales Seeing is Believing programme in London.

Organised by BITC, the project takes business leaders out to see homelessness first hand on the streets of the capital.

McMeikan said at the time that the visit had a "profound impact" on him and he returned to the North East with a desire to do something to help. …

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