Lewisham Homes lead the way for social value in Social Housing

Social Value

Viewing posts tagged Social Value

Lewisham Homes lead the way for social value in Social Housing

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.

Lewisham Homes Cast Study new houses

Longfield Crescent Estate: 27 flats and houses built by Lewisham Homes


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, some of their own custom metrics and those from HACT Social Value Bank – a third party social value framework that can come integrated into Thrive’s social value model. 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”

Lewisham Homes Social Value


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.

Lewisham Homes grants

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.

‘Code red for humanity’ – Can you afford not to take action?

Major climate changes are inevitable and irreversible.

You must have been living under a rock if you have avoided the debate on climate change over the past few decades. More recently the conversation shifted to less debate and more concern – but now the sense of urgency that we must take action to avoid a climate catastrophe is real. And I, for one, am incredibly nervous about the world we are leaving for our children, our grandchildren, and their grandchildren. How can I look them in the eye and say I did nothing?

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a long awaited report explaining that we no longer look set to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C or even 2C above pre-industrial levels in the next two decades. They concluded that “human activity is changing the Earth’s climate in ways unprecedented in thousands or hundreds of thousands of years” and that this damage is in many cases irreversible.

The IPCC are the world’s leading authority on climate science and spent 8 years working on this report. which brings together knowledge from hundreds of experts, scientists and peer review studies. They found that human activity was “unequivocally” the cause of rapid changes to the climate, and the only way to stop the 1.5C level being breached is to drastically -and rapidly – reduce greenhouse gases within the next 10 years. 1.5C is a tipping point, beyond which irreversible changes to the climate become more and more common. Every fraction of a degree of further heating is likely to compound the accelerating effects.

And even at a 1.5C increase we will still see the continuation of extreme weather conditions and consequences that have plagued the planet recently – extreme floods, excessive droughts, the acidification of oceans, rising sea levels and mass reduction in biodiversity. At current predictions, whole communities face being wiped out either through coastal sea levels rising, fresh water availability declining, or areas of the earth just becoming unlivable. In the Pacific Ocean, whole islands could be gone within the next 20 years.

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, warned: “[This report] is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk…this report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet,”

Global leaders acknowledge the need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, yet our dependence on fossil fuels is actually set to get even worse, with global energy-related CO2 emissions rising at over 0.6% per year. Something has to change!

So what can we do?

The answer to this lies in the political and economic structures of our society. We need systemic changes in the way we behave. In the way policies are made. In the way companies are held to account. Lobby your local authorities for changes in their fossil fuel use. Demand transparency over the plans they have for moving to net zero and ask them to be accountable for how quickly they are achieving it. Be active, make yourself a part of the conversation; you can add considerable clout either as an individual but more so as a company making a stand. You can make the difference.

While what I am saying above is hardly earth shattering, or ‘new news’, all those in the CSR, sustainability and social value industry are well positioned to take positive steps and drive action to help make a difference to this evolving crisis.

I would like to hear from business leaders, practitioners and indeed any interested party about what you are doing in response to the evolving climate crisis. We would like to share more about what the organisations who follow us are doing and how we all, as an industry at large, can respond. By sharing the steps we are taking, we can inspire others and kick-start those who have been mulling over the prospect of making changes in the way they operate.

Please get in touch with me at neilm@thrive-platform.com so we can share your stories and inspire some much needed change.

Read more about how you can address the climate crisis and support the net zero goal.

How VolkerWessels UK created a sustainability framework which underpins the whole business

VolkerWessels UK is a leading multidisciplinary contractor that delivers innovative engineering solutions across the civil engineering and construction sectors, including rail, highways, airports, marine, defence, energy, water, and environmental infrastructure.

VolkerWessels UK is leading the way, by combining CSR and social value activities into an overall community and sustainability focus, which is embedded in its operational delivery model. The business programme is ambitious – and highly impressive – with many elements that other contractors can learn from to successfully implement or enhance their own community programmes.


People Planet Purpose

Emma Ward is Head of Sustainability and Inclusion at VolkerWessels UK. Emma explains how the People-Planet-Purpose sustainability framework underpins everything the business does, and how Thrive was key to the delivery and measurement of this exciting initiative.

People-Planet-Purpose takes bold action to balance the needs of the environment and society, alongside the growth of the business. It makes the commitment that 2020-2030 will be the Decade of Action for VolkerWessels UK. Each of the People-Planet-Purpose pillars has three themes, and a total of 23 high-level metrics, which allow us to measure and monitor performance. Areas of focus include education and employability, circular economy, sustainable procurement, and community engagement, amongst others

Having this robust and flexible approach, which is centred around the firm belief that we can trust our employees to be the drivers of change, is bringing sustainability to life across the business. The next step was to be able to capture and showcase our achievements to inspire more people along our journey.

To read more about People-Planet-Purpose, please visit VolkerWessels UK


Why did they need Thrive?

In the past, VolkerWessels UK had used a mixture of online tools, spreadsheets and emails, to log and track the work the business was doing around CSR and sustainability. However, due to the size of the business, and the complexity of the various components, cohesion was a struggle and some of the work being done across the business was being under reported, or worse, not captured at all. A lack of a centralised hub for information meant that there was no easy way to capture the great work that was being delivered, making reporting a challenge.

Now, more than ever, the way VolkerWessels UK was engaging with communities was critical to ensure People-Planet-Purpose was a success. To do this, the business needed a way of capturing the progress it was making, in a transparent and simplistic way.


What did VolkerWessels UK need?

The brief was four-fold. The business needed to:

  • capture its community engagement activities;
  • monitor its sustainability commitments;
  • provide a way for schools to request support or for students to request work placement options, and
  • promote volunteering opportunities to its employees.

The Thrive team worked closely with VolkerWessels UK to establish a centralised in-house portal, to keep things simple and streamlined, and all in one place. As Emma explains;

Thrives software meant we could overcome data collection bottlenecks, by engaging with employees across the whole business. The reporting features have been pivotal in us being able to share our progress, and further drive engagement internally, with our supply chain, and with our clients.


Application management system

VolkerWessels UK has a long-standing programme of community engagement through schools with many of its employees contributing a significant amount of time through mentoring, industry talks, coaching, etc. The volume of enquiries for this is high across the country, and so the business now uses the Thrive education module, hosted on its own website, where schools can simply complete an online form to request support from the business. They then manage the requests centrally, enabling all parts of the business to review the level of support they are able to provide, and then match them with the appropriate people, based on type of request and geography.


Volunteering management system

Volunteering, helping, and being active in local communities is core to everything VolkerWessels UK does, with all employees entitled to take volunteering leave. Through the Thrive platform, employees can see what volunteering options are available to them across all 500 sites around the UK, and locally, and apply for them. The platform then automatically manages their attendance and records the impact made, not only through the eyes of the employee, but also for the beneficiaries of the volunteering time.

VolkerWessels UK Volunteering Screen Shot

Social value module

The final piece is the ability to use the social value module to capture and track the social value activities at all of VolkerWessels UKs projects as well as those undertaken centrally by head office employees. By tracking all the business social value commitments, they become transparent for employees, stakeholders and clients to see. It gives standards by which the business can benchmark its work and provides targets for year-after-year improvement. And, by reporting this clearly and consistently, VolkerWessels UK can see the associated social value of its activities, generate reports, and share best practice within the business.

The ability to report the progress being made towards targets the business has set is key to ensuring ongoing engagement, trust and success in the People-Planet-Purpose framework.

Integrated together

Data can flow easily between each system, to create a consolidated view of all the activity VolkerWessels UK is undertaking.

VolkerWessels UK has a wide-reaching community investment and social impact strategy. This spans more than just activities that happen on site as part of a standard construction project. The business takes a holistic view of how to track and maximise impact in the communities it serves. This is directly in line with the way that Thrive operates, allowing businesses like VolkerWessels UK to manage all their community investment, and impact generating activities, in one place, not just gathering data and reporting on it.

If you would like to learn more about how Thrive can help your business, please get in touch today.


VolkerWessels UK Litter Picking

VolkerWessels UK Litter Pick




How to find Social Value within your existing business activities

A few weeks ago we talked about ‘what is social value’, explaining different ways in which it can be accounted for within society. There has been a lot of buzz around the changes in the criteria for public procurement as we have previously discussed – now, due to PPN 06/20, public authorities must not only consider social value in their tender criteria, but place at least 10% of their weighting on it. (Read about it in more depth here)

This is great if you are a company that already has a robust social value strategy in place and a credible, auditable way of accounting for it. But what if you are just starting out on the journey and do not want to be left behind in this new tender process? How can you show bid assessors that you too are providing additional social value through the work that you do?

Of course, in order to stay competitive, you can’t just add on more and more additional services, no matter how beneficial to the local community or environment they may be. There is no point in having the most robust and comprehensive list of value adds, if you don’t end up winning the contract because your price is out of budget.

And we aren’t just talking about the charity work or volunteering you commit to through your CSR or employee engagement programmes. Social value activities are so much more widespread than this. Do you really know what activities you can claim as providing social value? There are plenty that your business is probably already engaging in right now… Once you know this, you unlock your potential to be considered on a whole range of projects where you might otherwise have missed out.

What are the themes and topics you need to think about?

As part of rolling out PPN 06/20 the government produced The Social Value Model to give guidance around to the areas of interest. We’ve listed the themes and their associated topics below. Don’t be put off by either the vagueness of the wording or the intensity of the guidance document that goes with it. It is actually a very logical and useful list of activities that many companies already engage in. You may just not think of them as ‘social value’ in these terms, but once you look at the evidence around the fiscal, environmental and societal effects, it all starts to paint a kinder picture.

PPN 0620 Themes Thrive Social Value

There are 52 metrics in total within The Social Value Model and so there is likely several metrics that you are already recording. Some examples include

Theme 1: Tackling Covid-19 Recovery:

  • Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employment opportunities created under the contract for those who were made redundant due to COVID-19.

Theme 3: Fighting Climate Change:

  • Number of people-hours spent protecting and improving the environment under the contract

Theme 4: Equal Opportunity:

  • Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) disabled people employed under the contract

So how do you know the fiscal, environmental and societal effects of your work? You need a tool to quantify it. At Thrive we use the Impact Evaluation Standard to do this. This measurement tool is a collection of the 52 metrics directly aligned to The Social Value Model, but also 50 more as well. The Impact Evaluation Standard covers not only the metrics, but the financial proxy values and guidance documents which have been designed by a panel of Social Value experts. It takes account of the continually changing landscape in procurement and draws upon the latest guidance from the UK government.

So, in this upcoming series of blog posts, we take a look at where you can delve deeper into your existing supply chain or businesses practices to show how you can demonstrate additional social value, without adding significantly to your contract cost.