By Amanda Vigar, Managing Partner, V&A Bell Brown LLP
Earlier this month, we celebrated Yorkshire Day (August 1) – a day when us Tykes joyously celebrate our roots! It’s a day when Yorks dialect and heritage is revelled in. Yorkshire people worry that it has become a media and marketing jamboree, perpetuating stereotypes of whippets, black puddings and flat caps. But I say, why not celebrate a day dedicated to God’s own country?
You don’t have to be too long in the tooth these days to remember a time when everyone knew everyone else. Relatively recently geographical loyalty was almost ingrained into the national psyche. TV series like ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ celebrated Yorkshire pride and plucky regional spirit. Back then, anywhere outside Holmfirth where the rag tag characters lived, was seen as a bit foreign; everyone existed in a microcosm. Everyone knew everyone else and everyone else’s business. Or that’s the way it seemed.
Skipton was recently lauded as the finest place in Britain to live because of a combination of low crime rates, top-class schools and great transport links. It also, like Holmfirth on a smaller scale, has a thriving high street that is not dominated by national chains and identikit facades. But there’s no denying that places like this have changed from years ago.
There’s a refreshing change in that newcomers to an area can feel accepted within months rather than a lifetime. There are however many good things to lament about the death of belonging. The absence of a sense of community may lead to alienation among the younger generations, in particular. The lack of jobs and the non-existence of a ‘job for life’ facts can lead to problems in formerly close knit communities.
One of the ways of increasing the feeling of belonging is to try and put the people back into business. This can be achieved with a more customer focused approach with the aim of building up long-term working relationships.
In my own accountancy practice, we like to put the people back into business. In practice, this means that we work with numerous people in all sorts of trades and occupations; we have built strong relationships based on trust with our clients; clients know they can meet with the same person every time and are not simply assigned to whoever is available; and we value each and every client, no matter how big or small.
On balance, these days we probably have a better deal. Today, we can celebrate our Yorkshire roots, without feeling trapped by them. We can enjoy our heritage without feeling defined by it. We can celebrate all that is best in our county while welcoming neighbours and those who are attracted to settle here. We haven’t got everything quite right, but we are certainly on the right tracks.