Adding social value is an important part of any construction or renovation project, and is crucial to how the project partners engage with the local community. Given that the sudden necessity of the work could be distressing, it has been even more important to make sure that the community as a whole benefits from the work and the presence of the partners in the area. We therefore needed to have a wide range of social value activities aimed at a variety of demographics. We also needed to make sure that the social value activities were relevant to the partners and benefited from their expertise, and could be easily assessed against agreed industry standards.
A forward action plan was prepared and agreed which outlined the social value work to be carried out as part of the contract. Updates on social value work have taken place at operational contract meetings and strategic project meetings, allowing colleagues in various levels and competencies of the project to feed in to the work and provide feedback and expertise.
Using calculations from the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust’s (HACT) social value bank, the equivalent of about £1.5m has been provided for contributions to events and projects for people in the local area. The social value bank provides an agreed standard for assessing the social impact of programmes. A dedicated United Living social value officer has been appointed and based on site to make sure funding reflects the needs of residents. Goodwill payments have been made to residents facing higher heating bills as a result of the works, the most recent being last autumn, and a programme of kitchen and bathroom refurbishments is underway.
Several of the supported projects focus on children and young people, including a post-16 options evening for young people in Deptford and five CV workshops that have taken place at Deptford Green School. United Living have also been speaking to local schools about entering them in a hoardings artwork competition.
Another focus of the projects is training and skills development for local residents. Contractors have provided resources for the refurbishment of the New Cross Skills Centre and the Cyber Cafe, both based near the site and now open to residents. Also provided have been online certificated learning, a new apprentice administrator role, and training weeks including construction site hoist training. Funding has also been used to restore a community garden and provide digital skills training for residents of our sheltered living schemes.
Local business has also been supported through £1200 towards the Lewisham Changemakers Pitch Night, where residents could pitch for funding for their new social enterprise start-ups. A workshop to encourage women into roles in the construction industry was held in January 2020. This involved working with the local Young Women’s Hub, a charity that supports girls and young women from deprived backgrounds. Further events will follow in future. Further information on social value work can be found in United Living’s social value plan [pdf].