Social Value: Leading by Example - Anne Kinghorn

Partnership Manager, Anne Kinghorn shares her thoughts on social value and her experience leading on the projects that make a difference to the asylum community.

Partnership Manager, Anne Kinghorn works with very vulnerable service users who come from countries after facing immense trauma and have different cultural backgrounds. 

Anne has worked with asylum seekers for several years initially starting with YMCA in 2012 then transferring to the new privately let accommodation contractors.

Her previous roles have taken Anne to Belfast and the North West of England and she has wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of the asylum and immigration process, particularly concerning devolved areas of government.

As someone who leads by example, Anne promotes and engages her team in social value, by living the values. 

By sharing those values Anne believes it sets a standard that honesty,integrity, and quality of thought and action are the benchmark of operating in a decent and caring business.

Anne writes:

“Social Value should be the glue that binds us together so that any business decision or action is taken is underpinned by the need to do the right thing and behave in the right way. 

“I believe that the long-term growth and sustainability of a business should not be based on short term gain in profit, resource or productivity but built firmly on the belief that long term goals that benefit not just the business but our clients, employees, and our local and national communities”.

“For me, social value is about the culture and ethos of an organisation,and at Mears this is built into our DNA.

“In the current climate of a global pandemic and the personal challenges that individuals and their families have had to face over the past year, it is more imperative than ever, that we continue to work together to do what we canto change and improve society that we live in.

“As a business, we invest a lot of effort to be a responsible, secure and innovative business in our sector and in projects that make a difference.

“We work very closely with clients and local partnerships that can often lead to some great social value initiatives. As a team, when we start looking at projects, we talk through ideas and suggestions to see what works –something that is not always complicated or complex, but often practical,simple, and easy to implement. 

“We also try and look at projects that also do not need a lot of funding, and once people are on board with the scheme we get going. 

“I think the key to a successful project is making sure that the people who are leading it provide a structure and format that encourages ideas and keep the ball rolling so that impetus is not lost, and apathy doesn’t set in.

“Many of the projects that we are involved in is around assisting our service users to make the most of their lives and supporting them to help make their lives better.

“We work with stakeholders and partners to arrange and supply clothing,shoes, toiletries, and toys. We also work with charities that help people with their mental and physical health, teach service users English, therefore aiding them to better integrate and settle into their new lives and homes. 

Sometimes, we take the small things for granted and working with people who do not have English as a first language has taught me the value of patience and persistence. It has given me a glimpse into their lives - of how challenging life in a new country can be without the necessary support structures in place. 

“We also support several local charities in Glasgow to raise funds,donating goods, time, and skills. Our team works alongside other colleagues such as the Residential Welfare and Housing Managers, who are often ones to see at first hand the needs that some of our service users have.

“One of our most recent projects involves the ongoing refurbishment ofan old bus by the Maintenance team to assist a local charity to deliver psychological service to local teenagers suffering from mental health. 

“Others include fundraising for local charities through cakes sales,coffee mornings, raffles, guess the weight of the sweeties, etc, alongside Family Fun Days, Sports Day, Xmas parties, and delivering hundreds of Christmas presents for asylum children in Glasgow – we do keep ourselves busy! 


“What keeps me going is when I see the impact of what we do on the lives of our service users. It is very humbling to meet asylum seekers who have achieved their goals through being granted status, learning English, securing educational qualifications, and have gone on to get a job and settle into their local communities.

“Many refugees work very hard and contribute in so many ways to live in the UK. Most of the individuals and families that I have met are always so keen to give something back to the country that has given them stability and hope.

So, the one thing I would like to leave you with is this- take the time to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes and try and see life from their perspective. 

“Social Value is not merely a cost or a value that can be pointed at on a balance sheet; it is the ability to connect and facilitate groups of people or individuals to flex their will and make a difference in their communities.

“And when you take a personal interest in these projects – the outcome is extremely rewarding.

“I believe it is paramount for everyone in the business to get involved in social value - why would you not?”