10 Gloucestershire businesses that give back to the community

More than just attractions and hospitality hotspots, meet the Gloucestershire lifestyle businesses that are giving back to the community through education, outreach and access to opportunities.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
East Glos Club is one Gloucestershire business with a strong community focus, running its own schools outreach programme and making racket sports as accessible as possible for the Cheltenham community.
In partnership with East Glos Club  |  eastglos.co.uk
East Glos Club

East Glos Club is a fun and sociable sports club in Cheltenham, with first-class racket sport facilities, expert coaching and annual membership options that give members the chance to enjoy tennis, squash, racketball and padel. Players of all ages and abilities are welcome, with opportunities for competitive and social play, too.

Gloucestershire has a thriving cultural, arts and entertainment sector, home to award-winning family attractions, sporting venues and world-renowned events — many of which work hard behind the scenes to support the local community, from outreaching to schools to providing access to opportunities for young, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the county.

SoGlos puts 10 of Gloucestershire's community-focused lifestyle businesses in the spotlight, to highlight the inspiring ways our favourite attractions and venues are giving back to the communities they came from.

East Glos Club

East Glos Club has been at the heart of Cheltenham's sporting scene since the late 1880s, with a community of 1,900-strong members. With a clear community engagement mission, it's increasingly searching for ways to give back to the wider populus — even putting a dedicated community relations director at the helm in 2022.

All year round, East Glos delivers a low-cost, tennis coaching programme at Montpellier and Pittville Parks, giving Cheltenham residents the chance to try a new sport — and warmly welcoming non-members to enrol on most courses at the club, too. You also don't need a membership to try padel, with slots for non-members to enjoy taster sessions at East Glos every week.

The club has its own schools outreach programme with links at many local primary and secondary schools, encouraging participation in squash, tennis, padel and racketball. Club coaches deliver a range of open days and off-site visits, as well as talent identification days to encourage young people to take up racket sports.

At the club itself, an annual tennis festival gets more local children playing tennis, too, inviting over 80 primary school children from 10 schools to participate.

Gloucester Cathedral

Rooted in the community for over 1,000 years, Gloucester Cathedral is not only a place of worship and iconic Gloucestershire landmark, but a '21st-century cathedral' that's committed to using its position and resources to give back to the local community. 

It supports the county's homeless community through its weekly Breakfast Club, which provides hot drinks and cooked breakfasts to anyone in need on Thursday and Saturday mornings, between 8am and 9am. 

On Wednesdays, the cathedral's Gardening for Wellbeing group meets, giving vulnerable people — or anyone whose wellbeing needs a boost! — the opportunity to flex their green fingers, growing their gardening skills and cultivating new friendships in a relaxed environment.

As part of its mission to engage young people, Gloucester Cathedral has collaborated with local artists and performers to create free, downloadable resources, from family crafts and comprehensive guides to drawing, to mindful photography programmes. It also welcomes youth groups to explore the cathedral on Tuesday evenings.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum offers a diverse programme of on-site and outreach activities for community groups, providing greater access to nature for people who would otherwise struggle to visit its magical tree garden. 

Its Branching Out initiative brings the magic of Westonbirt to people living in residential care homes, through a multi-sensory six-week programme; the Wild Westonbirt programme helps people from local youth groups and groups with additional needs to build their confidence in the great outdoors, through a series of visits and activities at the arboretum; while Westonbirt Wellbeing facilitates visits based around mindfulness, helping adult and youth groups to connect with the therapeutic benefits of nature.

Initially funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund, with continued support from charity Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, the community programme has supported the mental health and wellbeing over 9,000 people from diverse and disadvantaged communities, since it launched in 2014. 

Westonbirt also runs a community access scheme for local charities and groups, offering reduced-rate visits for people who would find it difficult to visit the arboretum independently.

The Roses Theatre

Tewkesbury's very own hub of culture and entertainment, The Roses Theatre, hosts a packed programme of music, theatre and cinema throughout the year — while also supporting the local community with outreach initiatives and regular groups.

The theatre provides a space for community groups to meet, hosting monthly meets for the local ADHD support group and Tewkesbury's Friends of the Earth group. It also supports Gloucestershire charity, Caring for Communities and People, by acting as a coffee pit stop for its Walking and Photography group as they pass through Tewkesbury town centre.

Everyone is welcome to join the resident community choir, which is accessible for complete beginners as well as experienced singers — there's no nerve-wracking auditions, no solos, no requirement to read sheet music and all performances are optional, with sessions costing just £6. The Roses also hosts a free-to-attend Singing for Health and Wellbeing session, for those looking for gentle singing exercises with more of a focus on breathwork and mood-boosting tunes.  

Supporting Gloucestershire's younger generation, The Roses runs its own youth theatre programme and coordinates projects with local schools — for example, its Resilience Project with Tirlebrook Primary School helps Year 5 pupils to acknowledge the difference between declining mental health and dealing with difficulties, providing a 10-week, resilience-building programme that has been created in collaboration with Artspace Cinderford and Tewkesbury Nature Reserve.

Cheltenham Festivals

Driven by a passionate vision for a world where everyone has access to explore and co-create culture, Cheltenham Festivals — the organisers behind the town's world-renowned Literature, Jazz, Science and Music Festivals — runs year-round talent development programmes, providing opportunities to budding scientists, gifted artists and musicians.

Its Composer Academy supports composers who are just starting out, offering professional guidance to help develop their careers — and thanks to support from funders, the course fees are heavily subsidised and kept as low as possible to maximise accessibility. Meanwhile, its Write Now programme gives young writers the opportunity to hone their craft, with mentoring, workshops and networking opportunities, as well as the chance to participate at Cheltenham Literature Festival.

The Festivals also runs an extensive school programme, providing a wealth of educational resources and opportunities for Gloucestershire schoolchildren to engage with culture, both in and outside of the classroom. 

It offers literature, music and science-specific programmes, along with its flagship outreach project, Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils — a free course, designed to help teachers and pupils to deepen their knowledge about books and boost their confidence in reading aloud and starting conversations about literature — and Musicate curriculum, returning for 2024.

Gloucester Brewery

Earth-conscious brewer, Gloucester Brewery, is deeply committed to the local community as much as it is to the planet and gives back through extensive charity work.

As well as hosting events for incredible local causes like the Hollie Gazzard Trust and Sue Ryder, it's also created special-edition beers for charities — the latest launch in the pipeline is its non-alcoholic IPA, Cheeky Chopper, in collaboration with the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity — and committed to raising £50,000 for Gloucestershire-based causes in 2023. 

Embedded in the local sporting scene, too, Gloucester Brewery has a presence at Gloucester City AFC, serving its beer at the ground as an official partner and looks out for the local landscape by organising monthly litter picks, where do-gooders can get hands-on with helping.

Everyman Theatre

From its own knitting group, where people can find companionship while casting on, to theatre dance classes for the over-sixties, the Everyman Theatre offers several community groups to bring Cheltenham residents together. 

It also has a dedicated Education and Community department which supports local nurseries, schools and colleges with creative learning opportunities and curriculum support. 

Young people can delve further into the world of music theatre at the Everyman's Youth Theatre, including classes in movement and creative writing, which operates a non-intrusive bursary scheme so financial pressure needn't get in the way of anyone who wants to give it a go.

Longborough Festival Opera

A pinnacle in the Cotswolds' cultural calendar, the Longborough Festival Opera gives back to the community through its education outreach initiative, building relationships with local schools that have a dwindling arts provision, due to lack of staffing and funding.

Through its Singing Schools project, it has successfully established choirs in two local primary schools, with Longborough's chorus masters visiting every week to build pupils' musical skills and confidence; and runs interactive workshops for schools during the festival each year, giving local children the opportunity to experience opera on the theatre stage — usually for the first time.

It also has an ongoing Playground Opera programme, which transforms famous opera into accessible, interactive performances for schoolchildren — an enriching experience, created especially for schools in areas of rural or economic deprivation in Gloucestershire and its neighbouring counties.

The Isbourne

Making mental health and wellbeing support more accessible, The Isbourne's community wellbeing programme includes low-cost courses to help people who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, social isolation and navigating trauma or bereavement.

Gloucestershire residents can enrol for as little as £5, to partake in four-week courses on holistic topics spanning mindfulness for stress and anxiety, to mindful movement for people struggling with cognitive health issues.

The Isbourne also delivers art for wellbeing sessions every month, which are free to attend, and a monthly peer support group for people to connect over wellbeing activities and a cuppa. 

Barn Theatre

Backstage, Cirencester's theatre and performance space, the Barn Theatre, gives back to the local community through its own outreach programme, providing workshops and short performances for schools specifically addressing issues surrounding mental health.

Every year, the Barn gives hundreds of free theatre tickets to local schools and isolated older people through its Play it Forward scheme, which had expanded to include cancer paitents and those with chronic pain or mental health problems in 2024. This year also sees the launch of a second scheme called The Big Neighbourhood Watch, which encourages people to bring a friend or neighbour, who wouldn’t otherwise make it to the theatre, to watch a show with them at no extra charge — in a bid to tackle loneliness. 

The theatre also plays an active part in shaping Cirencester's large-scale events, with a special mass-participation event planned to bring the community together at Cirencester Market Place in 2024.

In partnership with East Glos Club  |  eastglos.co.uk

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