Enabling Social Impact Through The Procurement Process

Ever wondered what it's like to work in our Community Regeneration Team?

Fusion21's Social Value Coordinator, Danielle McGivern, spills the beans - and explains how she enables social impact through the procurement process.

Her diary is taken from a busy week in March.

Monday

I kick start the week attending an early morning planning session, with colleagues in Fusion21’s Community Regeneration team. After sharing updates, we assess and discuss upcoming priorities – it looks set to be a busy week!

After two cups of coffee I’m in the car and on my way to meet a young man, who is on the cusp of finishing a two-year apprenticeship funded by Fusion21.

Eighteen-year old George Buckley has excelled in his bricklaying apprenticeship – and after supporting and monitoring his progress throughout the process, I’m now visiting George to conduct his final review and chat through his next steps.

We talk about George’s journey so far – covering the skills he has gained, and the qualifications he has achieved; before focusing on his future ambitions to complete an NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Brickwork.

Having received glowing reports from George’s apprenticeship provider – I spend time sourcing and signposting him to companies who are looking for new recruits.

Fusion21 is committed to tackling the skills shortage in the construction industry, and this involves supporting young people to learn a life-long trade – since 2014, we have funded 144 apprenticeships, delivering £268,665 in social value.

Spending time with George, I reflect on my younger years, as I followed a similar path. My career in construction began as a plastering apprentice – which led me to winning Apprentice of the Year 2005 at the Women in Construction Awards.

I know how rewarding a career in the trades can be, and it’s exciting to see what is in store for George. I know he will do us proud!

Tuesday

My office every Tuesday is a live construction site in Northwich – which is delivering an £80 million project on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Barons Quay will see the creation of a thriving retail and leisure centre by autumn 2016, and is set to create up to 1,500 jobs. I’m providing social value consultancy on behalf of main site contractor Balfour Beatty, and leading on implementing a Regeneration and Local Economic Benefit (RLEBP) Plan.

The RLEBP sets clear objectives and targets, and ensures that social value is addressed and delivered throughout the 18 month project. Targets set can vary from the creation of apprenticeships and job opportunities, to arranging work experience with local schools and colleges, running skills clubs, and boosting the local supply chain.

This plan is also provided and tailored to any Fusion21 member who commissions a contract with us.

Arriving on site, I’m ready for a productive day – starting with a client liaison meeting with Balfour Beatty. We talk through site progress, discuss any arising issues, and set objectives to be met this week.

Next I catch up with several of the site sub-contractors, to check they are on track to meet their targets outlined within the RLEBP. Many have committed to creating work opportunities and taking on apprentices – so I chase up their progress, identify new available opportunities, and make sure vacancies are advertised in the right places locally.

I also remind sub-contractors to source local materials – and spend locally whilst on site. Small things such as buying lunches in the area can make a big difference to the local economy.

Throughout the remainder of the day I have several conversations with local schools and colleges. Many are keen to arrange work experience opportunities for their students – taking advantage of having such a large construction site on their door-step.

Just before I leave a friendly face comes to say hello, 47-year-old Nick took part in a two week initiative on site – and secured a full-time role as a Vehicle Banksman.

Having found himself out of work after 30 years in the construction trade, Nick now has job security again - a great result!

Wednesday

As a social enterprise we’re committed to supporting the growth, stabilisation and development of communities, and can offer a variety of positive outcomes – from tackling worklessness in disadvantaged areas; to improving digital inclusion and reducing reoffending.

Today I’m focusing on Fusion21’s ‘Through the Gates’ programme, a scheme that works with ex-offenders upon release from HMP Liverpool and HMP Haverigg in Cumbria – supporting them to find employment and turn their lives around.

My first appointment is with an ex-inmate from HMP Liverpool – after introductions, we work through an action plan to identify training requirements, and assess suitable roles given the conviction served.

Keen to find work on a construction site, my beneficiary needs support to complete his Construction Skills Certification Scheme training – so I book the next available course.

All of the ex-offenders we help have taken part in Fusion21’s Construction Academy whilst in prison. Inmates attend a range of construction related courses, gaining qualifications and practical skills which ensure they are better placed to find employment upon release.

Thursday

I’m back in Northwich today – this time to deliver a careers talk to local unemployed residents, about working in the construction industry.

My invitation is linked to the support I’m providing at the Barons Quay development – and in addition to talking about routes to employment and necessary qualifications, I highlight how skills learnt can be transferable to other occupations.

Being in a room of residents aged between 22 and 60 years certainly keeps me on my toes – and the session ends with a very lively Q&A debate.

Friday

The last day of the week sees me marking the tender submissions received for our Planned Maintenance Installation Works framework.

As a business we attribute a proportion of a tender evaluation to social value – and I spend the day scoring submissions, based on a contractor’s ability to deliver social value outcomes.

This approach ensures that social enterprises, SME’s and socially driven suppliers stand a better chance of winning work through the procurement process. It also means Fusion21 members will benefit from working with contractors and suppliers who are committed to the creation and delivery of social value in local communities.

After an eventful week, I’m off home for the weekend – but I’ll be ready to hit the ground running again on Monday morning!