A HOST of organisations in the city have benefited from investment from a major Chester-based business 

Credit card provider MBNA celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023, coinciding with a record year for its corporate social responsibility programme, the MBNA Community Investment Programme, which has helped to support 30,000 people through its partnership and community outreach work.

During the year, the Community Investment Programme invested more than £1million in organisations across Chester, where the company is headquartered, and the wider northwest. The programme is dedicated to enhancing opportunities for disadvantaged groups, engaging communities and providing much-needed funding for transformative programmes through a range of partners, including Chester Zoo and Sale Sharks.

In 2023, the MBNA Community Investment Programme partnered with a host of regional groups and organisations, including the Sale Sharks Foundation, Chester Football Club and its Foundation, Chester Racecourse, Chester Zoo’s Project Schools: Climate and Sustainability Programme, Storyhouse Chester, the MBNA Chester Marathon and MBNA Chester 10K and Bolesworth Estate’s charity and community outreach work. 

Over the year, the programme redoubled its efforts to fund key projects to revitalise and re-engage communities, boost inclusion, tackle societal challenges and enrich the lives of hard-to-reach communities, supporting tens of thousands of people across the region. 

Vicky Dowd, MBNA Community Investment Partnership Manager, who has headed up the work of the programme since its inception, said: “2023 was a remarkable year for the MBNA Community Investment Programme, as we were able to build on our established relationships and expand our impact to other programmes that are transforming the lives of the people they support.”

Last year, in partnership with the Sale Sharks Foundation, the MBNA Community Investment programme helped launch ‘Tackle Together’, a bespoke diversity and inclusion programme committed to creating more inclusive routes into rugby.

With MBNA’s support, the Sale Sharks Foundation worked with more than 2,000 participants across the northwest to deliver inclusive rugby sessions, including wheelchair and Down Syndrome rugby sessions, totalling more than 400 coaching hours across 58 schools. 

In 2023, MBNA also helped Chester Zoo launch its Project Schools: Climate and Sustainability Programme. Dedicated to tackling climate anxiety among the region’s younger generation and boost awareness, the programme works with schools across the north west to equip them with the knowledge needed to help them live more sustainably.

The project sees students invited to the zoo for in-person interactive workshops and complimentary family tickets gifted to participants. So far, the MBNA Community Investment Programme has helped fund more than 20 dedicated sessions, engaging more than 760 pupils. 

“The key standouts for 2023 were the launches of both the Sale Sharks Tackle Together Programme and the Project Schools: Climate and Sustainability programme alongside Chester Zoo.

“What both of these projects have in common is their shared commitment to enhancing the lives of the people they engage, creating new opportunities and tackling live issues across society. We’re also extremely proud of the work we continue to do with all our partners and are excited for what 2024 may bring.” 

The MBNA Community Investment Programme has also helped fund a range of community events with Chester Racecourse, providing exclusive access for 100 people from organisations, including Cheshire Young Carers and Save the Family, to its annual Roman Day event. It also donated more than 200 free tickets for the Lord Mayor’s Firework Extravaganza to families from Hope House, Claire House, Cheshire Young Carers and Abbey Upcycling. 

In partnership with MBNA, the Chester FC Foundation was able to provide more than 300 hours of youth engagement activities across the six-week summer holiday, engaging 645 young people in sessions including Chester FC Soccer School, Goalkeeper Camp and Girls’ Soccer School.