Blogs

Social Value: Leading by Example – Andrew Chambers

General Manager Andrew Chambers shares his thoughts on social value and his experience leading on the projects that make a difference to his community in Rotherham

"Our work brings us into contact with some of the most vulnerable people in society, living in some of our most socially deprived communities, it is an absolute imperative that we lead on social and diversity impact. 

 

"However, we don’t believe in lip service - at Mears, we lead by example. 

“To understand the impact of what we do, we first need to understand our community and what they need. 

“The Rotherham community, in general,is very friendly as is commented on by many who visit us. It has a strong industrial past in coal and steel which is what probably moulded it and people tend to look out for and help each other.

“It's had its share of knocks, the most recent being the CSE controversy a few years ago, but rather than feel sorry for itself, Rotherham has fought back and is trying to promote itself and the great things the town has to offer.

“We work in close partnership with our client and have several partnership projects that have a broad positive impact on many lives both directly and indirectly. This could range from aesthetically improving a communal space to giving isolated older people a Christmas lunch. 

“We also do a lot of work that focuses on training and helping people find employment through the Local Employment Activity Forum (LEAF) or helping guide children on to the right career path. 

“We have taken an active part in developing the Women in Trades toolkits for schools and in shaping the future for women into construction. 

It makes us proud to know that we will have helped many people get on the employment ladder or given them direction in their careers.

“We also have a long-standing social value relationship with SHILOH, a homeless support charity, who we have supported since 2011 and helped refurbish two properties. It's difficult to measure the impact this will have had on the lives of homeless people in Rotherham, but I would imagine it is significant. 

“Looking at some of our key projects,I am so happy that we have managed to keep them going and adapted them to the pandemic. We have been able to move our LEAF event virtually as well as to conduct several online Work experience training for the young people in Rotherham. 

“As a result of our commitment tolocal employment and apprenticeships, we’ve had 49 young people taken up these opportunities since 2010 with a completion success rate of 81% - 40 young people with a recognised qualification and work experience.

“This pandemic has been hard for all of us but has been especially hard for older people. As we couldn’t host our annual Christmas lunch with Age UK last year, we delivered Christmas cards and presents to those who would have normally attended the lunch. 

“So, a question that I get asked a lot is – how do we do it? What motivates us and keeps us going?

I suppose the answer is that everyone of us in the branch believes that giving back to our communities and making a positive difference is the right thing to do. 

“As the General Manager, I try and motivate my team by taking part in the social value activities myself,encouraging others to do so.

“You can usually find me plating up or serving lunch at the Christmas lunch event. I usually lead our Foundation walks and escort the Mayor around at the LEAF event.

“I've personally supported several SHILOH projects over the years and sit on the Rotherham Together Partnership Board and the Ambition Rotherham Board which both work for the betterment of Rotherham and its people.

“I am very proud of my local community and its people and will always take the opportunity to promote pride in Rotherham wherever and whenever I can.”

“However, we do face challenges while trying to plan our projects. Sometimes the project itself can be tricky or very expensive and sometimes it's difficult to choose which ones we can support and which ones we can't. 

“Most are worthy, but we can't support them all! Once we have chosen our project, it can be difficult to source resources and availability of the team which has to be balanced againstcarrying out our core service.

“However, for everyone who wants to make a difference, Mears offers two volunteering days a year. Colleagues can also get support from the Mears Foundation for any project that they think will make a great impact on the community.

“For us in Rotherham, we will continue our work in the community and help promote a borough where people can grow, flourish and prosper.”