WATES | Social Enterprises are the Key to Unlocking Economic Growth
Ambika Tah is a Pre-Construction Assistant for Wates Construction in the East Midlands and talks about the value of social enterprises in the supply chain.
My role as Pre-Construction Assistant at Wates is incredibly rewarding, in ways that you wouldn’t perhaps expect for the construction industry. Every day offers a different learning opportunity, and meeting and working with new people on a regular basis means I am constantly developing in my job.
One of the most fulfilling parts of my role is acting as a Social Enterprise (SE) Champion for Wates in the Midlands. As businesses that reinvest their profits back into the community for social benefit, social enterprises are a very important part of Wates’ supply chain and we have committed to spending over £20m with the SE sector by 2020.
This commitment has seen us work closely with Streetwise Environmental, a hugely-successful SE based in West Bridgford, Nottingham. Streetwise provides services including landscaping and internal and external property cleaning and employs hard-to-reach individuals that have previously struggled to find work.
We were one of the first businesses to commission Streetwise to carry out substantial works for us and they have now supported several of our East Midlands Property Alliance (empa) projects across the East Midlands including Mellers Primary School, Bluecoat Academy and Grantham Beacon Children’s Centre. The empa framework, managed by Scape Group, is an excellent means through which we have engaged with SEs like Streetwise as it enables us offer our construction services to public sector organisations in the region while also ensuring our presence has a lasting impact.
Our work with Streetwise has seen the enterprise channel the money it has earned back into the community through employment and training and by working with local groups, schools and care homes to deliver educational events such as caring for the environment, as well as neighbourhood pride initiatives with ‘at risk’ young people. Our partnership has also enabled us to help Streetwise secure additional work directly from our clients and it has been very satisfying to see the SE’s order book grow so significantly since we began working with them.
It’s for this reason that Wates works so hard to champion the SE sector and we are incredibly vocal about encouraging other businesses to ingratiate SEs into their supply chain. We recently held a ‘Seeing is Believing’ tour in Nottingham, during which we introduced representatives of local public and private sector companies to numerous SEs to demonstrate the valuable and high quality work they carry out. Guests including procurement specialist Scape and Nottingham City Council joined the Streetwise team to showcase the indisputable benefits of working with SEs. I was very proud to see attendees learn more about the true value of the SE sector, and how it generates income to create social change in the wider East Midlands region.
We have spent over £30,000 with SEs in the East Midlands over the past year, but we are always looking to invest further and are hosting an event at Nottingham Town Hall in November in order to engage with more. If you represent an SE, or would like to find out more about the work we do in the sector, we would love to see you there.
Wates’ work with SEs perfectly sums up why I love my job – it brings me into contact with a wide range of fascinating individuals and groups, and allows me to make a really positive impact on society. Construction is such a vast industry that many people don’t appreciate its full scope, and the positive impact it has on wider society. The use of social enterprises such as Streetwise within our supply chain is part of that, allowing us to invest back into the areas we work in, both socially and economically. Collaboration between large companies such as Wates and SEs opens up opportunities for both parties and, most importantly, the people and communities in which we all work.”
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