Working with communities for lasting social impact

At Interserve, we are passionate about creating social value. This means making a positive contribution to the communities in which we operate and supporting people to realise their potential. We do this by sharing our expertise, providing jobs, supporting the local economy and our supply chain partners – helping communities grow and thrive. That’s why the first outcome in our SustainAbilities plan is to improve the quality of life for all.

Working with communities for lasting social impactTo achieve this, we’ve set ourselves an action to build and sustain 500 long-term community relationships by 2020, and to increase our employee volunteering to 20 per cent across the business.

What does this mean?

Community relationships are our connections with local organisations, charities, schools and social groups we work in collaboration with – investing our time, skills and resources to achieve positive social outcomes.

Building long-lasting community relationships can mean many things, such as working with local schools and colleges to offer regular work placement opportunities for students, or partnering with social enterprises, either to buy their products and services, or to help them build capacity to compete in the market through mentoring or free use of our infrastructure.

In 2016 Interserve helped to rebuild a school destroyed by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
Watch this short video to learn more about the project.

Other examples include building long-term relationships with charities through regular volunteering, undertaking maintenance work or helping the people such organisations support. In this way, our actions to build strong community relationships and our aim to encourage more volunteering complement each other.

Working together to achieve lasting impact

We don’t just want to fly in and fix things. We want to work alongside people, create a legacy and to be a major part of the communities where we work.

We already have a number of valuable relationships with the ‘People Who Know People’ that we want to work with in the community. We partner on numerous projects with major charities and trade organisations such as Business in the Community and Social Enterprise UK, to:

  • co-produce the annual Social Value Summit, an event bringing together the private, public and VCSE sectors to find new ways of working together to create a positive social impact;
  • promote Ban the Box, BITC’s campaign to remove the criminal conviction tickbox from recruitment processes and removing employment barriers for ex-offenders;
  • support social enterprises with skills and know-how from volunteers within our business as a corporate partner in arc Yorkshire.

And really, that’s the good stuff. The rewarding bit. The great feeling of seeing the difference we’ve made in peoples’ lives.

These are all long-term community relationships, but they also open doors to more connections with the organisations and members they support and serve.

Making a real difference

In 2016, we reached 12 per cent employee volunteering across the business – a big step up from when we started our SustainAbilities plan in 2013, but evidently there’s still a long way to go. We also invested £2.5 million into local communities through fundraising and volunteering. These investments help address an identified need at that time, but in the future we want to strengthen these relationships, working in partnership over a period of time and capture the long-term impact of our intervention.

For example, we’ve maintained and grown a number of relationships developed through employee volunteering such as with Grimm & Co’s ‘Apothecary to the Magical’ in Rotherham, where we’ve volunteered since 2015 to help create a magical space for storytelling and creative writing workshops for children to help them build confidence, and inspire their imaginations. Furthermore, in London we support Providence Row’s work to tackle the root causes of homelessness to help people get off, and stay off, the streets through supporting English, Art, IT and employability classes, and serving delicious brownies as part of the Rise Bakery social enterprise.

Why are we doing it?

The benefits are numerous – firstly we create a stronger and lasting impact when we work alongside communities through sustained contact and support. We generate goodwill and a sense of place and wellbeing for both our colleagues and our friends in the community, and which often results in new connections, discovering talent and supporting local employment. Not only that, but we can help our customers tackle social issues present in their regions and cities.

It just makes sense in every way.

Find out more

We believe by building strong lasting relationships with our communities can make a lasting impact on social value. Find out more about our employee volunteering here.

Talk SustainAbilities

Join us to read, watch, comment on and share key issues of sustainability

  • Rinku

    How can i contact the Sustainabilities department in Dubai for a possible partnership for a project to screen films for children in challenged conditions