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Award for making an 'impact;

A LEADING South Lakeland training company is celebrating after being named as one of the best employers in the country.

Impact Development Training Group secured a place for the second year running in The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Small Companies To Work For.

The Windermere-based business was ranked 27th best business overall in the listings, and also scooped a special award for best practice in the category of giving something back'. The award was given to the business that combined corporate charitable giving with encouraging staff activity and involvement.

Impact, which has 93 staff and annual sales of £7.7 million, provides experiential learning for some of the world's top companies.

Impact, which recorded pre-tax profits of £653,000 last year, runs programmes in about 40 countries each year.

The company has offices in 13 countries around the globe, including Tokyo, New York and Sydney, and strives to create a model of sustainable enterprise, partly through investing a proportion of its profits into local and international community projects.

Impact gives every member of staff a minimum of three working days a year for personal development through community projects. In Cumbria, projects have included mentoring head teachers and creating an outdoor classroom at a local school.

On a wider scale, Impact last year sent out teams to Thailand to help with re-building efforts following the devastating Asian tsunami; donated a skilled member of staff, rather than cash, to the earthquake relief effort in Kashmir; and designed a leadership development programme in Zambia to help the fight against HIV/Aids.

"For Impact, the onus is always on people making a difference and with The Sunday Times Top 100 Award, this is true recognition at the highest level," said Impact founder and managing director David Williams.

"We were absolutely delighted to receive the special award for giving something back and to be recognised as the top small business in the UK for our contributions to the communities in which we operate."

Impact marked its 25th anniversary last year and Mr Williams said the business had made "a huge difference" to the lives of hundreds of people around the world. "Closer to home, we also continue to give something back locally, through our internal Learning in the Community programme and with the community-based learning journeys that we organise for our clients.

"This approach is having a huge effect on morale and personal development. It is also influencing large organisations like Barclays, Borealis, Deutsche Bank and Sony to invest more time and money into learning and development that makes a real difference to more people's lives."

According to the study, Impact staff were said to be happy, committed and motivated.

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