Provident Financial Group delivery partner for Bradford 2025

Rob Lawson from PFG and Shanaz Gulzar from Bradford 2025. Picture by Phil Jackson

With no letting up in activity in Bradford following its momentous win of the UK City of Culture 2025 title, Bradford 2025 has welcomed Provident Financial Group (PFG) on board as its first official delivery partner.

Joining as a Major Partner, PFG has committed a substantial financial contribution towards Bradford 2025 over the next four years which will go towards the development of the district’s UK City of Culture programme, its delivery in 2025 and a legacy year in 2026 to develop and embed the social and infrastructural benefits that the UK City of Culture year will bring.

PFG’s sponsorship comes on the back of more than 35 businesses who backed Bradford’s campaign as bid partners over the last three years, helping the district create a winning bid and beat a record number of entries to be named the next UK City of Culture.

PFG is one of the oldest companies in the city, having been founded in Bradford in 1880 by insurance agent, Sir Joshua Waddilove.

He started the company to address the problems faced by working class families struggling to pay for essential items and devised a voucher system that could repaid in weekly instalments.

Over the last 140 years, the company has grown to become the UK’s leading specialist bank to those not served by mainstream lenders; providing credit cards, vehicle finance and loans through brands Vanquis and Moneybarn. Today, the FTSE 250 company employs more than 650 staff in Bradford and has around 1.8 million customers across the UK.

Winning the coveted title is a game-changer for Bradford, acting as a catalyst for significant long-term benefits including increased employment opportunities, new investment and enhanced skills.  It is estimated that the UK City of Culture 2025 title could bring an extra £700m into Bradford district, creating 3,000 jobs and attracting around 1.1m visitors.

This aligns strongly with PFG’s core ethos which is to help aid financial inclusion and social mobility for its customers and their communities.

Rob Lawson, head of sustainability at PFG said: “We’re proud of our strong history in Bradford and to see the district get recognition of this level on a national stage is just fantastic. We believe that supporting and nurturing young talent here is so important, especially as we try and recruit locally where possible.

“The UK City of Culture designation will bring the type of long-term investment that will make Bradford an even more attractive place to live and work, which is great for us as a major employer here. We fully appreciate the role that culture can play in levelling up our district, and we look forward to playing a part in helping to create the most incredible cultural programme and legacy for Bradford.”

PFG works with several charities local to their offices and across the UK with a focus on helping children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop their literacy, numeracy and employability skills.

These include the National Literacy Trust’s (NLT)  ‘Words for Work’ programme, which helps young people develop the communication skills they need for the workplace and its ‘Doorstep to Digital’ initiative which supports schools to engage hard-to-reach parents through a parental peer-to-peer volunteering network.

PFG colleagues also deliver workshops and volunteer with a number of community organisations including Bradford Education Partnership & Leeds LEP and Innovations for Learning – which targets struggling young readers from disadvantaged communities in the district.

Shanaz Gulzar, chair of Bradford 2025, said: “We are thrilled to announce PFG as our first delivery partner; the company has such strong roots here in Bradford and is passionate about championing all the positive changes the title will bring.

“I have no doubt that the incredible support we had from the business community across the district during the bidding campaign was a major factor in helping us to secure the title. We look forward to announcing many more partners over the coming months who will play a key part in helping us to deliver a City of Culture year like no other that could only happen here in Bradford.”

The Bradford 2025 transition team is currently recruiting a Creative Director and a Managing Director to lead the delivery of the district’s bid. The roles are set to be in place during 2022 with recruitment of a wider delivery team to follow.

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