The founder of a Nantgarw-based social business has scooped a prestigious national business award from the Institute of Directors, in recognition of his commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Patrick Nash, who founded Connect Assist in 2006, was named Director of The Year for Leadership in Corporate Responsibility at a glittering ceremony in London’s Lancaster Hotel on Friday 22 September.
Connect Assist is a social business providing multi-channel helplines and digital service solutions to charities and public sector organisations across the UK. It supports thousands of people each day in challenging circumstances, including those dealing with mental health issues, debt and unemployment.
Patrick was the only Welsh business leader to win one of the highly-prized accolades, beating off stiff competition from Eurostar and Beckett Investment Management to collect the gong from BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam.
The award for Leadership in Corporate Responsibility recognises business leaders who can demonstrate that, through their direct actions and leadership, their business has made a positive impact on the local community, wider society and the environment.
Patrick launched Connect Assist with a clear vision; to make a positive change to those living in difficult circumstances. Among its numerous achievements, the company has created 150 permanent jobs in the south Wales valleys, with 30% of employees having a long-term medical condition or disability. Nearly half of the firm’s employees joined after a period of unemployment.
Earlier this year saw the launch of Veteran’s Gateway, linking thousands of armed forces veterans with the right support, 24/7. Other clients include the Royal British Legion, Mind and Combat Stress .
Patrick, who has worked in the third sector for over 35 years and had launched 12 successful charities and social enterprises, said:
“I am absolutely thrilled to have won this prestigious national leadership award, which I was honoured to accept on behalf of the company. Eleven years ago we set out to create fulfilling jobs in an area hit by recession, to support people in challenging circumstances and to make a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of lives.
“Charity and public sector organisations are facing difficult times, and are expected to help increasing amounts of people, while budgets continue to shrink. Our multi-channel helplines and digital service solutions allow them to support more vulnerable people while spending less. Our business has grown from a team of 12 to an ever-expanding team of 150, thanks to the excellent reputation we have built for service delivery and our expertise in the sector.
“It’s been a decade of change, development and achievement for us, but we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our dedicated staff and the community in which we work. As a social business, we aim to make a positive difference to people’s lives, including our service users, staff members and the wider community. In a recent employee survey, over 80 per cent of our workforce said that joining Connect Assist has had a positive impact on their lives. This ethos of positive change is at the heart of all we do, and I’m honoured that this has been recognised with this award.”
Welcoming the finalists, IoD director general Stephen Martin said:
“Our awards seek to shine a light on directors who have enhanced and driven their businesses forward. The contenders come from different organisations – of varying shapes and sizes – but the one thing they all have in common is leadership, expertise and personal dedication.
“During this critical period of political change, we will need to see ingenuity and tenacity displayed by professional leaders.
“The vibrancy and diversity of the businesses here today gives me cause to be hopeful of the strength of British industries.”
Among the other winners were Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley, who took home the award for International Director of the Year; Moy Park chief executive Janet McCollum, awarded Large Company Director of the Year; and La Mare Vineyards managing director Tom Crowley, who took home the prize for SME Director of the Year.
In June 2017 Connect Assist announced changes to the structure of its senior team. Patrick Nash and co-founder Rusty Livock announced they were taking a step back from the day-to-day running of the business, with former client services director and head of consultancy, Ron Moody, becoming CEO. The new leadership team also comprises Adam Wilkinson as sales director, professional services director Stephen Pickett and operations director, Sharon James.
Although the day-to-day leadership of the organisation has changed, Patrick and Rusty continue to play an important role as directors, working with charity customers as well as training and coaching staff.