Keep Britain Tidy which runs the Green Flag Awards programme is planning to establish a system of accreditation for businesses which donate cash, resources or both to Green Flag.
London-based packaging and recycling company DS Smith will put in £100,000 each year in over two years to fund the Green Flag Awards and pay for full-time liaison between the business and the charity.
Grounds maintenance projects will be arranged for DS Smith workers to get involved with and they will be connected to friends groups and parks staff as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility undertaking, as well as encouraging employee fundraising drives.
Speaking at the partnership launch at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park yesterday Keep Britain Today programmes director Richard McIlwain said: "What we’d really like this partnership with DS Smith to be is a springboard for other businesses to get accredited. It helps the morale of employees, a lot of businesses recognising that now.
"What we want to do is make that successful so that it becomes a natural to engage with the community."
Chief executive of DS Smith’s recycling division Peter McGuiness said: "How we see ourselves is that if we are in that community we try and be good neighbours. We hope our 22,000 employees will get involved."
He said the money had come from the DS Smith Trust fund and said that other businesses, particularly consumer-focused ones, would also see the business value.
"I think businesses will all be very keen once they see the benefit. Once one of them gets accredited, they’ll all want to be."
Communities minister Stephen Williams, whose remit includes parks, helped launch the partnership with a speech that veered from parks funding in the future, to smoking bans in public places to tax avoidance.
It was the second speech he gave on parks yesterday, after meeting The Parks Alliance and representatives from the public and charity sectors in Parliament.
He welcomed the new venture and said that more private sector sponsorship was needed, along with more volunteering as part of "a holistic approach".
"Looking to local authorities on their own to provide resources for parks is not going to be part of the near future or perhaps the far future," he said.
See next week’s issue of Horticulture Week for more.