December’s AMIP meeting focused on social value within the housing sector and the venue – Mary Ward House – was chosen due to its strong links with philanthropy and social wellbeing.
It started with an interactive session delivered by Gemma Peglar, Preconstruction Director, Julian Sanz Head of Social Value, both Mulalley and Alys Exley-Smith, Community Relations Manager at Lewisham Council on how organisations can embed, deliver and monitor social value as part of the procurement process.
Attendees participated in a Slido poll where they were asked to list the “good, bad and ugly” of social value practice.
The good included real community benefit, giving back, and positive outcomes for local communities. The “bad” and “ugly” included box ticking, overpromising and unrealistic bids.
The panel explained how collaboration and communication between clients, contractors, suppliers and residents is key to delivering social value that works.
The session ended with a discussion around potential solutions, covering increased collaboration and market engagement, social value workshops, best practice sharing, the standardisation of social value, sharing performance data, and benchmarking to stop unrealistic bids.
Delivering focused solutions
Deborah Williams, Social Impact Manager at SNG, which has delivered £33 million of social value, shared the organisation’s journey.
She talked about delivering focused solutions and connecting the dots, to ensure that support is given to those who need it the most. Flexibility and partnership working are key to supporting the most vulnerable, she said, and suppliers want to make a valid difference.
Deborah rounded off by saying that to make the most of social value, organisations need to play to their strengths and passions and understand the needs of communities, building long-term partnerships with suppliers based on shared values, in a way that works for both organisations.
Upskilling the next generation
Neel Bidessie, Director of Social Value and People Development at Langley, followed with a session about the creation of its Social Enterprise Company Langley Training Services Ltd.
The cost neutral organisation is delivering social value and improving lives, as well as upskilling the next generation.
Neel spoke about the role of social enterprises in creating social value, the benefits of social procurement and sourcing from social enterprises and outlined how Langley is working with the sector, supporting it to change lives and leaving a legacy for the future.
Shelley Hathaway-Batt, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Projects at Clarion Housing Group, outlined the work of its charitable foundation Clarion Futures, which actively seeks out those hardest to reach.
She spoke about the need to engage with contractors and the wider community, adding that the lynchpin is about relationships and trust, and social value must be embedded in contract management and governance.
Social value is a pillar of Clarion’s procurement strategy, she said, and it works with contractors to find out where their expertise lies when asking for social value. Playing to a contractor’s strengths rather than asking them to deliver something out of their comfort zone leads to better outcomes, she added.
They covered defining social value, its importance in bid responses and integrating social value into contracts, discussing key components of social value bid responses. This included identifying community needs, tailoring solutions to local contexts and a collaborative partnership approach, as well as building local relationships, aligning resources, teams, stakeholders and collaborations, establishing communication channels and implementing preliminary community engagement when mobilising social value activities.
Rita spoke about keeping the local pound in the borough, delivering for residents and giving people the tools and abilities to make a difference in their community.
Interaction with clients is fundamental to success, she said, highlighting the merits of the sector joining forces to improve people’s lives.
In accordance with Mary Ward House’s policy, unused Bento boxes from the working lunch were donated to provide meals for homeless people. Attendees also donated gifts for Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas campaign to provide presents for children who wouldn’t otherwise receive anything. A further £500 was donated online.