We believe in going the extra mile for local communities, especially those neighbourhoods in which we are delivering long-running, disruptive engineering work.
Our support often sees us invest in local projects that improve quality of life and benefit the environment.
We are keen to properly understand the social impact that these schemes have, so that we can make informed future investment decisions.
To achieve this, in 2013 we undertook a Social Return On Investment (SROI) study for a community investment project in Miles Platting, Manchester – a neighbourhood in which we have been carrying out a lot of engineering work.
The project saw us create a new play area for the local community. The SROI study found that for every £1 invested, societal benefits worth £7.68 were accrued.
Since this encouraging initial study, we have been exploring ways to use SROI principles across a wider range of social initiatives, using a methodology that is practical, proportionate and cost effective.
Working with environmental charity Groundwork UK, a key delivery partner in our community investment programme, we developed a slimmed down approach, known as a Social Impact Assessment (SIA).
The SIA model has been trialled on four further initiatives, and has proved valuable in helping us to define, more clearly, the social objectives for each project, and in providing additional insight into different potential approaches.
The SIA model will now be applied to all community investment projects delivered in support of our capital schemes. In addition, it will be applied to two Community Grant schemes over the next 12 months (schemes which see us provide ‘seed’ funding to support existing projects and groups).
We’re excited about the potential of this approach. It will help us take an even more robust approach to future community investment decisions, and allow us to demonstrate to our stakeholders, in more detail than ever before, how we are supporting local neighbourhoods, and contributing to the good of society.
If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews