Construction projects – especially those of national significance – are about so much more than spades in the ground. They are about delivering social, economic, and environmental benefits for local people and businesses. Therefore, it is our job to ensure the positive ripple effects of investment are felt by all. This commitment to communities is embedded in the projects we deliver, ensuring that all feel the advantages for years to come.
Delivering for communities
Our partners want to make a positive contribution to society, and aim to achieve this through social investment, sustainable development and long-term relationship building with clients, their supply chain, and the communities where they work.
For example, Sir Robert McAlpine recently launched the Strong Foundations Grant in partnership with social enterprise Semble to support grassroots initiatives across the UK. This follows a successful campaign last year around central Manchester and Salford. The grant aims to drive positive change in local communities by providing funding or support for new ideas or existing projects. The launch of the Strong Foundations Grant follows the success of Sir Robert McAlpine’s 150th Anniversary grassroots campaign, which saw employees support local projects according to their interests. The campaign saw grants awarded to communities across Britain, benefiting more than forty organisations.
Keeping communities engaged is key to taking them on the development’s journey. To keep local residents updated on developing the brand-new metro depot at Gosforth, VolkerFitzpatrick recently launched a community engagement app, giving those living and working around the depot a better understanding of the work. The app provides updates to communities and acts as a hub to promote community initiatives and events for local people, while also providing an insight into the work of an engineering and construction specialist.
Our engagement with communities extends beyond working with those in the areas around our projects. For instance, the team at VolkerFitzpatrick works closely with the CRASH charity. VolkerFitzpatrick has been a Patron company of CRASH charity for five years, helping several homelessness charities and hospices with their vital construction projects. The team recently helped to deliver a new dining area at Caritas Anchor House, a London-based homeless charity that provides accommodation and life skills support to homeless people in Canning Town.
Communities thrive when they work together – that means the business community working with industry and local people to deliver for the benefit of everyone. This has been WSP’s approach in delivering value for residents in Shropshire. Using materials from recycled roads, the council sought to deliver ‘Daily Mile’ running tracks for 15 Shropshire primary schools. The tracks were constructed from a total of 1,500 tonnes of recycled Shropshire roads and enabled 4,000 local children to participate in an initiative to support healthy living. WSP provided pro-bono services and dedicated over 700 volunteering hours to build the tracks within the available budget. Their work with local people was commended at the 2021 National Social Value Awards.
Our commitment to communities goes beyond direct interventions in the local area. We consider the impact of our construction works and the future environmental impacts of projects from day one. Our industry cannot ignore the impact of our work on the local environment and the wellbeing of people within the community.
Why does this matter?
Our partners do what they do for the benefit of communities. They are committed to bringing local people with them on their projects’ journey to help them unlock their potential. As an industry, we must do what we can to help shape a better, brighter tomorrow in whatever way we can. Delivering for society does not have to be a grand affair. A little can go a long way. By being considerate and championing local initiatives, we can shape a future we can all be proud of.