Tuesday, 06 December 2022 11:39

New Chair endorses charity as a driving force for good

New Chair endorses charity as a driving force for good

BH Live, the registered charity, which operates leisure and event venues across Dorset, Hampshire and London, has appointed Paul Collins as its Chair.

Paul is an ambassador of BH Live’s charitable mission and community impact. Passionate about BH Live’s charitable aims, and its role as a provider of community health, well-being and prosperity, Paul said:“I have always respected the remarkable impact BH Live and its team has in our community. Being physically active and engaged in culture is incredibly beneficial for everyone and our community as a whole. It makes our towns and surrounding areas more vibrant places to visit and live. Whether people are attending a concert, a conference, going to a fitness class or learning to swim, we bring people together to share a common experience and get a welcome feel-good endorphin boost. And it’s that sense of community and feeling good that is the driving force behind everything we do. Working with our local authority partners we run venues, leisure centres, cafés, bars, attractions and green spaces for the people in our community – but the reach and impact of our work goes so much further than that.”

Paul explains,“Every day our team of talented people, who are all local and from the communities we serve, are focused on three things: getting people more active, enabling more people to enjoy cultural events, and activities that support the local economy. Over the last year, people using local leisure centres and taking part in physical activity is improving community health and has generated a ‘social value’ of an estimated £10 million. This shows the extent to which we are improving people’s health and reducing the demand for health and social care services. Cultural events and entertainment make a vital contribution to the local economy too. The events we bring to the communities we serve provide a major boost to local businesses and jobs too and last year we generated an estimated cultural economic benefit of more than £7.2 million. In these challenging times, this is simply amazing.”

Paul goes on to explain, “By being a registered charity, every penny of surplus we make from our commercial activity is reinvested locally to benefit people in those communities. This includes essential building investment and providing schemes such as event tickets for carers, free-to-attend open days across leisure centres, at fitness events and around theatres. BH Live also subsidises cultural backstage tours and concerts, provides reduced-priced activities and event tickets for people on a low income. Furthermore, because more active people promote healthier communities, we are taking daily pressures away from our local NHS and health services. Through a broad programme of prehabilitation and rehabilitation activities, we are helping people with long-term health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancers, long Covid, arthritis and poor mental health.These are all things that have a huge and positive impact on people’s lives.”

Paul adds, “There is however no doubt that this past couple of years has been, and continues to be, challenging. Rising costs are having a vast impact on us all, including our team and customers. In these times of significant financial pressures, running our services as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible without seriously impacting services or affordability continues to be a priority. We are working with our council partners to reduce energy consumption and invest in energy-saving measures. We are committed to being net zero carbon by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2035. Further aims include working with healthcare partners to reach those who would benefit most from being regularly active. Increasing customer satisfaction and being a local employer of choice is high on the agenda too.”

As a registered charity and NPDO (non profit distributing organisation) BH Live reinvests its surplus back into developing community venues, services and employees. Recent projects include revitalising sports pitches, refurbishments and investment in technology to better serve its customers.

Also currently underway is a £1.8 million investment by BCP Council to improve facilities at Bournemouth International Centre (BIC). This will modernise the venue’s facilities with enhanced digital technology, additional meeting spaces, and improved public areas. The improvements will support the town’s bids to bring large-scale national and international conferences and events to the region which will in turn benefits local businesses and employment. Paul says: "This is a particularly significant investment because conferences and exhibitions bring an estimated £40million into the region each year through business tourism. This has huge benefits for local people, businesses, jobs and our economy. Despite a challenging couple of years, the venue has bounced back and remains a key player on the national events and touring circuit. It is however vital we continue to offer event organisers, delegates, and promoters what they need – and that the region has the best facilities and is a great place to host their events.This is an exciting time to be taking up the reins as Chair. With the support of the board and the experienced BH Live team, we continue to be a driving force for good. I am passionate that community remains at the heart of what we do, and we continue to make an impact where it matters most.”

Paul has been associated with Dorset and the surrounding areas for many years and worked in the motor industry for more than 50 years. He was Operational Director with the Westover Group and is a past president of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce. He has been involved with many charities as a trustee and has Board level experience having been a member of the Board for Poole Arts Trust (Lighthouse). Paul has a special interest in business tourism as well as sports and entertainment. Paul is a husband, father and grandfather. His family is third-generation Bournemouth and Paul is an ambassador for community health and wellbeing.

Paul takes over the helm as BH Live’s Chair from Active Dorset’s Martin Kimberley. Martin was a BH Live board member for +12 years and held the position of Chair during 2021/22.

BH Live is a charitable social enterprise and leading operator of leisure and event venues. The charity is looking to recruit additional volunteer trustees.

Find out more about BH Live and its charitable impact at bhlive.org.uk