Collaboration is key at Hoults Yard

Over the past year businesses in Hoults Yard have been taking part in The Good Business Meet Up, a joint initiative between BeaconHouse Events, Opencast, and HyHubs to drive change for the local community through positive conversations and consistent, considered projects in the local area, including sharing learning on becoming more carbon responsible or sustainable travel. But this group isn’t just about having good conversations. It’s about making things happen. In April 2024 over 30 people from Hoults Yard business community came together to litter pick around the local area, together picking up more than 50kg of waste and filling 20 bin bags in just an hour and this is just one in a series of initiatives being actioned from the meetups. Rather than discussing what could happen, the task force will be out and about in the community through a series of planned initiatives to demonstrate that small, consistent actions really can equate to big change.

Business including Opencast, Swarm, GSS Architecture, Steel River Consultants, Tandem Property Asset Management, Acropolis, Red Engineering and Ingram AV have all been rolling up their sleeves to champion what being a good business means here in the North East and Sarah Thackray, co-founder of BeaconHouse Events thinks this could be the start of something really impactful for the region.

Speaking about the Good Business Meet Up, which is currently held once a quarter, Sarah said, “While this has started as a way for businesses in Hoults Yard to come together to support each other to make positive change, in the future I would love for this to expand to include representatives from across the whole of the region so we can share and learn from each other and expand the reach of what we can achieve. The conversations that we have are really positive and focus on how to be a purposeful business; this isn’t about shaming businesses who aren’t doing things perfectly, it is about having action-focused conversations and celebrating and learning from those individuals and organisations who are doing what they can to become more sustainable and give back to the communities that we operate in.

“Future initiatives we are planning include a volunteer day showcase that will bring charities and community groups into the yard to let businesses who call HyHubs their home, know about the projects operating locally and how they can get involved on a voluntary basis. Here in Byker, we are surrounded by non-profit groups who are doing amazing things and this would be a way to match-make those organisations with businesses who align with their mission.”

While some members of The Good Business Meet Up are certified B Corps, the group is keen to help all business leaders discover what the best path is for them when it comes to exploring what being a purpose driven, responsible business means to them.

Sarah continued, “There is no ‘perfect’ way to do ESG (Environmental, Societal and Governance) and it is important to have really honest conversations with each other about what has worked and what hasn’t, that’s certainly something that has benefited me and the team at BeaconHouse Events. Having a community where you can ask questions without fear or judgment, team up to make things happen, and understand what sustainability means in practice is a really powerful thing and I’m excited to see where it takes us.”

Dan Pearson, Executive Delivery Manager at Opencast, said: “It’s been fantastic to see how an idea that Sarah and I had last year has transformed into a growing community, where local companies are coming together to discuss our shared ESG goals and challenges.

“Opencast prides itself on being a purpose-driven business that exists to make life better through the power of people and technology. Social expectations of what businesses should be doing have changed with employees and investors expecting much more – so groups like ours play an important part of how, by getting together, we can do more to make a positive impact.

I am excited about the future for our group as we evolve and continue to collaborate, share best practices, and provide guidance to address issues collectively.”

Louise White, marketing manager at HyHubs said, “At HyHubs, we’re actively taking steps to ensure we’re a good business in every sense. Through initiatives like The Good Business Meet Up, we’re not just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk. It’s amazing to collaborate with other HyHubs-based businesses, seeing the community come together to plan and work towards positive impacts. Whether it’s a litter pick or a community project, we’re rolling up our sleeves and making things happen.

HyHubs residents and businesses from across Hoults Yard are invited to take part in the Good Business Meet-Ups that take place quarterly at Hoults Yard. For more information on the next meet-up and for wider North East England purpose driven meet ups email sarah@beaconhouse-events.co.uk

Are corporate meat-ings a thing of the past?

As an office of foodies, we know that the catering options are a corner stone of any event, but the amount of meat consumed was having a major impact on how sustainable our events could be. So we got our heads together and came up with a simple solution – what would happen if you had to opt-in for a meat option, rather than opt out?

BeaconHouse Events co-founded the TechNExt Festival, delivered in partnership with Dynamo North East and Sunderland Software City, and the week-long event took place in June 2023. As part of the event the team created the ‘Good Festival Ambition’ in order to curate an experience that put quality, inclusivity, diversity, accessibility and sustainability front of mind. As part of this ambition, the catering throughout the week was designed to reduce our carbon emissions by encouraging people to make conscious choices about what they were consuming. That meant that all buffet options at the Main Stage event and Festival Party were meat-free and the menu for the 120 guests at the conference dinner was vegetarian by default, with delegates having to request the meat option if that was their preference. The result was 55% of the attendees at the dinner choosing the meat-free options, as opposed to the average of only 10% that we would see at a usual event, greatly reducing our carbon footprint across the week.

The climate impact of meat is enormous – roughly equivalent to all the driving and flying of every car, truck and plane in the world and when forests are destroyed to produce industrial meat, billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. This one simple change allowed us to do better for our planet during the week-long festival while still providing a delicious dinner for the guests to enjoy.

Under 5% of people in the UK are vegetarian but there has been a dramatic rise in the amount of people attempting to cut down on the amount of meat that they consume, either for health or environmental reasons. That means that as an industry we have to adapt. And the issue is coming into mainstream consciousness more and more, over the last year we have seen the news that Oxford Council have banned meat from their menus at corporate events, with Cambridge, Exeter and Norwich Councils following suit and Cambridge University Darwin’s College served a fully vegan menu for their ball this June.

But the key to creating impact isn’t simply switching to a veggie or vegan menu, the trick is to communicate the importance of why. Going meat-free was just one element of our ‘Good Festival’ ambition and ‘for good’ was a core value that ran through everything throughout the week. That meant a focus on quality, inclusivity, diversity, accessibility, and sustainability, all of which we communicated the impact of to our delegates in the lead up to the festival.

It is our job as a responsible employer and business to forge the path of what is possible and to collaborate with other organisations, both in and outside of the event sector, to learn from, and inspire, each other. We are seeing an increased demand for environmental reporting from our clients and are proud to be early adopters of TRACE, a digital carbon measurement platform to help the event industry reach Net Zero. TRACE helps us to gather data on our carbon impact at each event, which in turn gives us the ability to work with clients to benchmark and track success alongside their ESG strategy.

This small step is part of our wider goal to reduce our carbon emissions by 5% year on year, with the key ambition to become and remain a carbon responsible business, looking at carbon neutrality, alongside supply chain engagement, research into sustainably sourcing materials, digital solutions to limit single-use print and staff training to upskill the team on the future of events both in-person and online

There is still relatively low adoption for sustainable change across the sector, but with consistent and considered steps we can make real change together. To speak to one of our team about how you can put sustainability at the centre of your next event call on 0191 691 3456 or email info@beaconhouse-events.co.uk