Lewisham Homes is a social housing provider, managing properties across Lewisham on behalf of Lewisham Council. They manage an impressive 19,000 homes. That’s 47,000 residents, over 15% of the total residents in the Borough. They also operate their own maintenance company, and even build new homes too. So, the welfare of the community and the impact they have on the area is incredibly powerful. Through their 500 strong staff, they are continually finding new ways to invest in the local community.
As part of this commitment, Lewisham Homes has a deep focus on not only measuring but also improving the social value it provides across the entire organisation.
Social Value and Impact Strategy
The most recent step they have taken was to outline a clear impact strategy, as before now, the organisation was operating without an official definition or methodology of social impact measurement. Their new Social Value and Impact Report puts the wellbeing of the Lewisham community front and centre. It states that ‘for every pound of money Lewisham Homes spends, as much value as possible must be achieved for local people.’
A requirement of the new strategy is that all social value and social investment projects must now demonstrate their impact through ‘outcome based evidence’. This will not only show them the results of their activities, but also allow them to provide accurate reports as part of the ‘Lewisham Deal’ a combined initiative with other key partners, aimed at tackling poverty and supporting inclusive growth in the borough.
Alys Exley-Smith, ‘Community Relations Manager’ for Lewisham Homes tells us:
“Our new Social Value and Impact Strategy emphasises and embeds our commitment to social value, the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of residents, and enhancing life chances. It is a key part of ensuring that the organisations we work with make valuable contributions to our communities”
Read more about their Social Value and Impact Strategy.
Why did they need Thrive?
Lewisham Homes currently deliver positive impact through initiatives such as community investment activities, financial management support, welfare calls to residents, and apprenticeships. This work was previously logged and tracked using a mixture of online tools, spreadsheets and emails. However, this became incredibly time consuming and inefficient given the sheer number of projects and the different channels that were contributing to the work. On top of this, the initiatives were not collated into one data source or being measured for impact. So, the positive activity that Lewisham Homes were engaging in throughout the borough was often unknown.
They needed a central solution. Lewisham Homes identified that any system they rolled out to solve this problem, had to be easy for staff to engage with, at all levels of the organisation, and for valuable results to be clear.
Lewisham Homes also provide grants to their local community – on top of the existing community engagement work mentioned above. This seeks to further drive direct community action and change – something incredibly important during the Covid-19 recovery in the borough. Before launching the grant fund, Lewisham Homes identified they needed software to track the grant applications they would receive. They also needed to make it easy for their committee to score and track the outcomes of the ‘investment’ they were making through these various grants.
What did Lewisham Homes need?
The brief was two-fold. The business needed:
- A social value system to capture its community engagement activities. It would also need to measure and value the social value/social impact created
- A grant management platform to streamline their grant management process. It would need to provide clear consistency and transparency around the giving of grants, and the impact those grants had in the local community
Social value and metric tracking system
With so many projects happening across the borough, Lewisham Homes use the Thrive social value module to capture and track all social value generating activities. This means an overall annual social impact calculation can be provided.
The system automatically follows up with key stakeholders from across the business during each project or initiative to capture the key metrics and outcomes that matter. This means that nothing is missed and they are not relying solely on the memory of staff and administrators.
The monitoring and evaluation of social value is now built into the contract management of the service, and data measurement, monitoring and evaluation is overseen by designated staff members.
Lewisham Homes have chosen to use a range of metrics; a mixture of Thrive’s inbuilt metrics and some of their own custom metrics. Because the system is bespoke, metrics and social value offers can be reviewed annually and altered based on the current needs of the community.
Thrive is now the one data source for the organisation and enables case studies to be developed for reports such as their annual Social Value and Social Impact Board Report and the Lewisham Deal annual report.
Over the last 2 years alone, Lewisham Homes has generated over £8 million pounds of social value in within the communities it operates, which is incredible considering the pandemic lead challenges it faced.
Alys Exley-Smith says:
“Thrive enables all staff and contractors to easily record the social value they are generating to ensure everything is captured. The social return on investment calculations enable us to present the value of these contracts to stakeholders easily without the need for endless spreadsheets”
Grant management system
Lewisham Homes also use the Thrive Grant Management Module.
Applicants can apply for grants up to £5k, twice a year, via a detailed application form. This is then reviewed by an independent committee set up by Lewisham Homes to evaluate applications. The committee scores each application separately and anonymously and then the winners are chosen. The process is laborious and requires the committee to keep track of not only hundreds of applications, but also the management and outcome of the work.
The Thrive system handles the whole process. It also follows up with grant recipients to understand the impact their grant created, on the ground, in Lewisham. This provides Lewisham Homes with real impact stories, photos and results, which in turn keeps the momentum of the grant donations going.
“We are a small team and were slightly daunted at the prospect of managing our new community investment fund and the organisation required to do this.
Thrive enables it to all work seamlessly, we are able to promote a link to our external audiences to easily apply for the funding with fast support on offer from thrive to anyone who has difficulty with the form. We have a residents panel who score the applications which they are able to do through their link without having to print/ open separate applications in different formats. It also records communication with the bidders about the status of their application which ensures the whole process is transparent” – Alys Exley-Smith.
The effects are far reaching…
Lewisham Homes have fully embraced their new social value strategy. When we met Lewisham Homes for the first time, we found an organisation providing significant social value but without the means to capture it, much less demonstrate it. Now, with Thrive Social Value at the heart of their operations, no activity is missed and Lewisham Homes are able to demonstrate to their residents the true value they add per pound spent. Lewisham Homes are now truly leading the way among their contemporaries.
As part of their new strategy, Lewisham Homes have further increased the level of social value they provide by expecting more from their supply chain too. With the consultation of more than 800 community residents, social value and impact priorities have been identified more succinctly throughout the community, with the result being that all social value efforts in the procurement life cycle can be targeted in the places with the most need. Social value offers from suppliers will now go through the same rigorous reporting and evaluation process as in-house endeavours, meaning that the social value Lewisham Homes provides, reaches far down the supply chain, giving hundreds of other businesses the opportunity to improve community welfare on a daily basis. Well done Lewisham Homes!
If you would like to learn more about how Thrive can help your business, please get in touch today.
Or learn more about what exactly is social value.