Investing in our communities

Working hand in hand with trusted partners we approach these active individuals and groups to offer our support, investment and advice and through our Thriving Communities strategy, we’ve boosted our funding from £1m a year to £3.5m over the next five years.

For every £1 invested into our community projects, we’ve found that there’s a return of £10 in social value, calculated using the HACT ‘Care and Support’ data standard.

Over the next five years we’ll increasingly be taking an Asset Based Community Development approach in our communities. This means we’ll look at the schools, groups, charities and actual physical structures that already exist in the areas where we work, like village halls and playgrounds, youth clubs and baby groups – places where people gather together to support one another. Then we’ll approach them and offer investment and advice.

Our aim is to nurture these projects, these people - guiding them to identify exactly what they want for their communities, with long-term placemaking in mind. This means asking them to take the lead in setting aims and objectives, defining what they want for their communities.

In 2019-20 our officers got 48 active projects going, with another 73 in the pipeline. With an estimated social value of more than £2.5m, in return for the £250,000 we contributed, this is an amazing return on investment.

This social value is built into everything we do. We’ve teamed up with social value brokers The Social Value Exchange, a new partnership that will see us putting £50m of procurement spend through the Social Value Exchange’s online marketplace. This facility places community needs at the heart of public tenders, as community projects are 'auctioned', with organisations competing for tenders offering resources to get maximum tender points.

We’ll also encourage our residents to co-create with us, deciding how and where our money should be spent as they take part in participatory budgeting.

Our active involvement in this field has seen us work with others to create a White Paper on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance, to establish a credible, meaningful and consistent set of criteria on ESG reporting.