In 2016 alone, Manx Telecom invested more than £100,000 to support local sports, music, culture, youth groups, and initiatives which help older people – and it’s on course to match that sum this year. In fact, its investment in the local community goes back over many years. In this news feature we find out why this level of support continues to be important for the company, and take a look at what it means for major events such as the Manx Telecom Parish Walk.
Why is supporting community events and organisations so important to Manx Telecom?
Marg McGee (Manx Telecom Marketing Executive): As an independent Manx company which is proud of the role we play in Island life, we are committed to giving something back to the community we live and work in, and supporting the people, events, and organisations which contribute so much to the quality of life here. Sometimes that can be in the form of sponsorship of events such as the Parish Walk, End2End MTB Challenge, Tough Mann Adventure Challenge and Royal Manx Agricultural Show. However, wherever possible we use technology – plus our skills and expertise in deploying it – to underpin and shape the community support we provide. Some examples of how we put this into practice are offering live streaming of some local sports and community events, or services such as Pic2Go which allows participants in events to have official photos automatically uploaded to their Facebook page. Many events and good causes also benefit from publicity on our free digital community channels manx.net, isleofman.com and MTTV which generate millions of views every month. These are all examples of how we use technology to bring people together to make good things happen.
Give some examples of other community initiatives?
Marg McGee: Since 2008 we have organised our annual It’s Our Community scheme which has donated more than £50,000 to charity, voluntary and community groups in that time. Grants from £100 to £1,000 can be given for a wide range of purposes such as buying equipment, or decorating club rooms or other meeting places. The application process is very quick and straightforward because we recognise that time is often precious for people running the groups which need funds, and in most cases they are run by volunteers who give up much of their free time. It’s Our Community is open to applications from any community group – but we also run our It’s Your Community scheme in which Manx Telecom staff nominate and choose community groups they’re personally associated with to receive grants.
How has support and sponsorship from Manx Telecom helped the Parish Walk to develop over the years?
Ray Cox: The Parish Walk is a complex event. In a marathon, for example, you only have to record times at the finish line – but in the Parish Walk there are 17 checkpoints at which entrants may finish. In a sense, it’s like organising 17 races rather than one. Up until 2007 all of the timing was done manually with stopwatches and clipboards. With well over 1,000 participants by that stage it was becoming a difficult task, so we introduced automatic timing thanks to sponsorship from Manx Telecom. Walkers wearing timing chips to allow times to be recorded electronically at every checkpoint is something we all take for granted now, but it was a big step forward for the event 10 years ago and it shows how Manx Telecom’s support for the event began long before it became title sponsor in 2012. As the numbers of walkers increased, there was also growing interest in following the event online. In 2013 Manx Telecom’s IT team created a bespoke website specifically designed to meet the unique demands of the event by allowing friends and family of walkers to follow their progress as they reached each checkpoint, and to help journalists reporting on the race. It’s still in use today and has the capacity to cope with over 40 thousand visits over one weekend. Running the Parish Walk is a real team effort, and the organizing committee really appreciate having a company such as Manx Telecom behind us at every step of the way, not just in terms of providing financial support, but also their technical expertise which is equally as valuable.”
Photo - The Manx Wildlife Trust is just one of many organisations which have received Manx Telecom It’s Our Community grants in recent years.