Working for a social enterprise has opened my eyes to the benefits of social value programmes – including how vital they are to supporting the growth, stabilisation and development of communities.
On a daily basis my employer, Fusion21, supports organisations from across the UK, to tackle worklessness and social exclusion in disadvantaged areas; in addition to running projects that seek to improve digital inclusion; reduce offending, create apprenticeships and support barriers to learning.
All of these initiatives are responsible for helping to change lives for the better, by increasing available opportunities and bringing communities together.
In 2014 - 2015 alone Fusion21 generated £13,901,647 of Social Return of Investment for member organisations and created 619 jobs. To me, social value just adds up – why wouldn’t you do it?
As an Accountant I’m not involved with the delivery of social value programmes – but Fusion21’s approach to generating social value on behalf of our members (amongst other sources of inspiration), gave me the confidence to take the plunge and set up ‘Elev8 Ghana’ with my former high school friends.
Established in August 2015 this project aims to give something back to my home country, Ghana – and has my attention outside of my day job.
Not dissimilar to vulnerable residents living in the UK – Ghanaian communities need to feel empowered, supported and motivated to make and create positive change.
You won’t be surprised to hear the country is in need of greater financial investment, an improved infrastructure and increased resources – but at present Elev8 Ghana can’t offer those things.
What we can provide is our time and manpower to transform communities; encourage sustainable growth; and support community development to improve quality of life.
These goals can be achieved through activities such as: digging wells to source clean drinking water; cleaning out blocked drains; renovating beaches and helping older generations on their farms – in addition to also refurbishing orphanages and schools.
My latest trip to Ghana in December gave me the chance to roll up my sleeves and get involved in Elev8 Ghana’s second project - refurbishing a school in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
Mallam Atta Home School is a charitable organisation offering free education to homeless children – helping to keep youngsters off the streets, and offering them the opportunity to have a very different future.
Elev8 Ghana gave the school a complete overhaul – painting; cleaning; levelling floors and fixing walls. We paid for some of our resources and were also grateful to receive donations - including paint, thinner and brushes from a local paint manufacturer, Sikkens.
Fusion21's Accountant, Senyo Bissabah (centre) with 'Elev8 Ghana' volunteers.
The project also attracted media attention from TV3 Ghana – the most watched television station in the country – and a day before the project I found myself in their studios being interviewed on live TV (!).
The positive impact derived from social value programmes – in the UK or abroad – can never be underestimated. Without it, it would be difficult for many communities to thrive and help pave a new direction for future generations.
We’ve got big ambitions for Elev8 Ghana, and this is just the beginning of our journey. We're committed to regenerating and investing in communities – and also aspire to help boost job creation, to generate an income for local people.
Whether I’m in the UK – or in Ghana – I’m surrounded by people who strive to make a difference and better our communities. What a privileged position to be in. “
To see photos of our latest project and to find out more about Elev8 Ghana, visit the project on Facebook .
Click here to find out more about the social value programmes delivered by Fusion21’s Community Regeneration Services.