The visit to Bowburn Primary School on Friday, 21st February, helped to explain the company’s social value policy.
The Baroness’ visit to the County Durham school comes just weeks after we were awarded the lucrative contract for the junior school’s revamp and gave us the opportunity to showcase our delivery of social value outcomes to a Government minister.
Social value refers to the wider financial and non-financial impacts of programmes, organisations and interventions, including the wellbeing of individuals and communities, social capital and the environment.
Head of Corporate Affairs, Darush Dodds, and Social Value Manager, Clare Davison, made a presentation about the firm’s dedication to improving social value across the region, including the Bowburn Primary School project.
The ongoing works in Bowburn will result in a £7.4m transformation of the village’s 1970s-built junior school into a new state-of-the-art educational facility that amalgamates the former junior and infant schools. The junior school will remain operational during construction, with the new building to be located on the adjoining playing fields.
The project, to be delivered in partnership with Durham County Council and the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO), falls into line with the National Themes, Outcomes and Measures (TOMs) Social Value initiative — improving staff wellbeing, protecting the environment, promoting safer and more resilient communities, and social innovation.
Darren Knowd, Chief Procurement Officer at Durham County Council, Chair of the Local Government Association National Social Value Task Force and Chair of the North East Procurement Organisation, said: “As a council, we are committed to investing locally and it is vital we maximise the value of every pound we spend to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits to our communities.
“I recently met the Baroness, in my role as Chair of the National Social Value Task Force, and she was keen to visit Durham to see the social value outcomes our suppliers are delivering for herself.
“The new Bowburn school is another project that Esh has successfully won in competition, and the company’s social value commitments were key in our decision-making process when awarding this contract.”
Work began on the assignment earlier this month and is due to be completed by the end of 2021. It will cater for 540 children, including a 70-place nursery. The two-storey building is designed to maximise light and volume within its classroom facilities. It will include external learning spaces, outdoor play equipment, car parking, and drop off/pick up zones.
Throughout the project, a series of unpaid work experience placements will be provided as well as delivering weekly wellbeing drop-in sessions.
Our commitment to social value has seen engagement with more than 11,000 Key Stage 3 and 4 students through a ‘Building My Skills’ initiative. The scheme provides free access to high quality, impartial careers guidance to promote the construction sector and support the future workforce in local communities.
At Esh, we are passionate about local communities and are committed to delivering high-quality, meaningful engagement, which makes a real difference to people across our operational areas.
As one of only two contractors nationally to be recognised by Her Majesty the Queen for our commitment to social responsibility, this represented a great opportunity to showcase our work to Baroness Barran.”