To identify opportunities to enrich local people and places, we must look outside the construction chain, says Adam Crossley
Social value isn’t something done to people – it’s created with and for people. A rich understanding of the community is therefore vital to identifying the local challenges and finding ways to involve people in our projects in a way that creates value far beyond the tangible assets we build.
Our approach to creating social value is looking for opportunities to enrich people, places and partnerships throughout delivery of our programmes. For example, can we ensure that local people are recruited for our roles? Are there opportunities to reduce carbon in construction, or reuse materials to enhance local environments? Can we deliver our project in a way that’s safer, healthier and more inclusive for everyone?
Looking for these opportunities is now intrinsic to how we work, but the biggest impact is made when we collaborate outside the construction value chain to focus on what’s most important to the community.
For example, our partnership with British Land has developed social value commitments shaped around generating support for skills and employment, local business and wellbeing – the priorities of people surrounding the £180m redevelopment at Blossom Street in Spitalfields.
Key to unlocking the huge potential of social value in place-making is active collaboration with communities, customers and partners
After seeing the benefits of skills-building activities for people like Mahin, who joined us for a 12-week placement to gain hands-on experience as a project engineer on the refurbishment of 60 London Wall, we are working with Westminster Kingsway College to create placement opportunities at Blossom Street for the next cohort of T-level students, as well as recruiting apprentices and supporting local recruitment and education.
This approach has also paid dividends as part of our involvement in the joint venture working to deliver packages for HS2. For this community, homelessness is on the rise. Sponsored by HS2 and together with our partners and local charities, we have supported people through the employment and upskilling of homeless people and the creation of pop-up shelters that use our site buildings to provide temporary accommodation.
There is much more that can be done, and key to unlocking the huge potential of social value in place-making is active collaboration with communities, customers and partners to create projects that leave a legacy even bigger than the structures we build.
Adam Crossley is the director of environment at Skanska