The Old Bank becomes B Corp Hub

We were proudly able to announce our position as a newly certified B Corp organisation in August 2020, formalising our commitment to putting people and planet above profit and using business for good. What we didn’t reveal at the time is the exciting news that the Old Bank NOMA – managed by creative studio Standard Practice – has become Manchester’s first B Corp Hub, reflecting the changing world of business and responding to the requirements of the city.

Old Bank Project Manager, Neil Greenhalgh, reflects on the recent changes and what it means for the Old Bank moving forward.

The Old Bank has been the home for community focused projects at NOMA since January 2019. Between then and now, the Old Bank has been the place for choirs and theatre groups to rehearse; book clubs and mental health support groups to meet; art students to exhibit work; debutant film makers to show their films; and local creatives to gather and collaborate. However, since social gatherings have been off the cards, we have needed to react quickly – ensuring we continued connecting with our community in a safe, socially distanced way.

This started with us putting everything online with a series of Online Banking activities but has since influenced the fundamental way in which the Old Bank works as, during this time, it became clear that people don’t want to return to business as normal, and that we can use the B Corp guiding principles as shared by Planit-IE to help drive the great reset that our economy and our environment urgently needs. We believe that all businesses should put people and planet on the same level of importance as profit, and research has found that 72% of the UK public agree.

The Old Bank has therefore re-emerged from lockdown as a B Corp hub for the region, and we’ve spent the last couple of months gathering around us people that are using business as a force for good. Alongside Planit IE, we are joined by Blossom Coffee, a pending B Corp and carbon neutral business; With Love Project, who are about to begin their own certification process; Pentameter, who are a certified B Corp with both founders trained as B Leaders; Outdoor Provisions, makers of vegan nutrition bars in compostable wrappers; and the Community Interest Company and our long-time collaborators Easy Peel Studio.

The Old Bank is fast becoming a full and thriving community of interesting businesses all keen to add real positive change into the world, with the Old Bank itself acting as a B Corp incubator; where like-minded people can collaborate, share best practice, develop ideas, generate new opportunities, and grow together.

All of this has been reinforced by the formation of the Greater Manchester B Local group, set up by B Corp UK, as a peer support group for locally based B Corps, for which myself and Annalise from Pentameter have been elected co-chairs. The fact that both co-chairs will be based at the Old Bank adds a further stamp of authority that the Old Bank will be central to the B Corp movement and platform in the North West region.

With all the changes at the Old Bank, the one thing that has not changed is the focus on community. B Corp is all about community. It recognises that for-profit businesses like ours will continue to compete with one another, but there are some things that we should not be competing on. We should not be competing on ideas and approaches for looking after our people and our planet, and we should be sharing best practice, exchanging knowledge, and coming together to take on these issues as a collective force. Our online series of events continue at the Old Bank, with each member of the collective hosting Zoom based workshops, discussions, and webinars each month – all with a focus of changing the world for the better.

Our headline event at the Old Bank is A GOOD MARKET – a weekly opportunity for the creative team at NOMA and the collective at the Old Bank to be outside on Sadler’s Yard, delivering free workshops, serving seasonal food, showcasing sustainable products, listening to live music, and supporting the Pilcrow Pub. We are working with a range of B Corps and pending B Corps from across the country to help deliver this weekly event that gives a new public platform for people using business as a force for good, so there’s a freebie or two to be had along the way…

A GOOD MARKET is held on the Planit-IE-designed Sadler’s Yard at NOMA every Friday, 2-7pm until Christmas. Sadler’s Yard is the home of the Pilcrow Pub and neighbours the Old Bank building, at the centre of Manchester near Victoria Train Station.

For details of everything happening at the Old Bank, from weekly outdoor market afternoons to online digital conversations, workshops and events, and to sign up to our monthly newsletter, visit www.oldbanknoma.com.

Written by Neil Greenhalgh, Old Bank Project Manager