Since the introduction of the Social Value Act in January 2013 business priorities have progressed quickly away from generic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities towards an approach that is more closely aligned to the goals of each business. Social value is all about people, the community and the way in which all businesses can really make a positive difference to local people. Corporate Social Responsibility can sometimes feel like a bit of a tick box exercise and often focuses on recycling, environmental impact and donations to charity – all of which of course have their place.
In my opinion, that’s the minimum any business should be doing! In the construction industry we are now well beyond the days of simply painting community centres, as there are much clearer defined areas to address and ways in which our employees can contribute beyond their day to day roles.
Social value needs to be about changing futures, looking at each of our contracts and locations as unique in their needs and tailoring the support we can offer to fit these requirements. No matter how affluent an area is, there are always pockets of deprivation, unemployment rates to improve and young people who can benefit from our support in the transition from education to the world of employment.
This is exactly what we are aiming to achieve through our first social enterprise, BasWorx, which was established on our Basildon Borough Council repairs and maintenance contract. BasWorx is a subcontractor to Morgan Sindall Property Services providing training, work experience, pre-apprenticeships and employment opportunities to local residents of all ages and backgrounds. BasWorx delivers internal and external decorating and general repair works to Basildon Borough Council housing stock. Our BasWorx trainees are supported with their individual needs, and their circumstances taken into account to help them progress through the programme and achieve their goals. This includes everything from one-to-one mentoring and providing flexible hours, to employability skills and ongoing Maths and English support as required.
We engage with many communities, and our approach is to consider each person in each community and work out which kinds of support will be the most effective.
We don’t just focus on health, or education, or employment, we look at how each of these factors interlink to shape the wellbeing of each community.
The great thing about this social value approach is that there’s room for everyone to be involved in projects that are unique to each of our contracts, as opposed to the generic CSR work of days gone by. It’s time for businesses to really get stuck in, get your hands dirty, and make a difference to the people and communities we work with!
Amy Ross, CSR Director