Esh Construction drives social value in communities surrounding Yorkshire projects

Esh Construction drives social value in communities surrounding Yorkshire projects

North of England contractor committed to providing purposeful investment and engagement beyond the construction site

Across the United Kingdom, the construction industry plays a vital role in driving economic growth and development while also shaping social and environmental landscapes. The latest Social Value in Construction Benchmarking Report revealed more than £1 billion was spent in social value projects for 2022. Under the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 businesses are required to consider the economic, social and environmental wellbeing from commissioned projects and the positive impact on communities is gaining pace.

Esh Construction engages young people about construction careers through a range of STEM and employability workshops.
Esh Construction engages young people about construction careers through a range of STEM and employability workshops.

Esh Construction has always sought to stay ahead of the curve in providing community benefits around its construction schemes and currently delivers social value through 30 bespoke programmes, some of which are award-winning. In continuing to grow its Yorkshire portfolio, and since the implications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Esh has restructured its social value offering by developing a Constructing Local Strategy centred around six themed ‘E’s’ – Employment, Education, Engagement, Even Greener, Employees and Economy.

Initially joining Esh in November 2021 as a community co-ordinator, Megan Roberts had a lot of catching up to do on commitments that couldn’t be delivered due to school closures and lockdown rules. By the summer of 2022, Megan was promoted to Social Value Manager for Yorkshire with a key ambition to get into the communities in which Esh operates and build a social value legacy.

Megan Roberts is spearheading Esh Construction's social value delivery in Yorkshire
Megan Roberts is spearheading Esh Construction’s social value delivery in Yorkshire

Investing in social value

Spearheading Esh’s social value activities in Yorkshire, Megan has seen opportunities blossom, with over £2.8 million worth of social value delivered in the region in the last 12 months alone, with an average 18% social value return on investment. The steadfast approach to social value has not gone unnoticed, with Megan being named in the Top 30 Under 30 Leeds and West Yorkshire list for new business talent, owing to the manner in which she has developed collaborative partnerships to grow Esh’s offering and support established organisations at the heart of the local communities.

Reflecting on progress over the past three years, Megan said:

“When I joined Esh, I spent a period of time playing catch up on commitments that couldn’t be fulfilled throughout the lockdown period and social distancing restrictions. In the past 12-18 months though, there has been vast change and improvement in our social value programmes and partnerships, coinciding with growth in our work in the South Yorkshire region – it’s a really exciting time to be working in social value, and construction.

Attendance at key industry events, including the North Star Science School 2023 at Gulliver’s Valley Theme Park and Get Up to Speed with STEM at Magna Science Adventure Centre both this year and last year bore fruit as Esh engaged with over 4,000 students and linked up with RNN Group, The Work-wise Foundation and Skills Street.

Key initiatives launched in the last two years include Construction in the Curriculum and a water themed Get into STEM programme, which offer real life insight into construction careers. It results in communities surrounding Esh’s live and pipeline projects benefitting from a range of opportunities, as the company drives local employment and local spend opportunities to subcontractors and suppliers, while taking part in volunteering and providing charitable donations to relevant community groups.

Esh’s social value commitments in the region have been developed in line with key housing and civils contracts through the last few years. From housing developments at Fir View Gardens and Pemberton Road in Sheffield and Castleford respectively, to active travel projects that are improving the transport infrastructure between Broom Road and Wellgate, Sheffield Road and the Maltby Bus Corridor in Rotherham, Esh’s visibility in South Yorkshire has grown too.

Changing mindsets

Charitable endeavours, investing in employees and CSR activities haven’t always been labelled as social value, but it was always there. Since 2012, tender requirements have steadily introduced a growing impetus for social value benefits and Esh has grown its social value team to meet the demand. Megan is buoyed from the buy-in she gets from Esh’s forward-thinking project teams and senior team.

The 25-year-old Pontefract native said:

“There has been a monumental shift in mindset on social value in the last 5-10 years and we’re seeing clients join us on our journey. The majority of Esh’s current projects in the region involve improving infrastructure and public realm and new build affordable housing schemes, and we can deliver a targeted and tailored approach to social value in partnership with our respective client for each project.”

Earlier this month, Esh was announced as a Skills Investor partner with Skills Street at its new interactive learning facility at Gulliver’s Valley Theme Park. The site is expected to welcome 16,000 students annually, while activities will be accessible to the general public, community groups and leisure visitors. And there’s more to come, according to Megan.

She said:

“As project teams become more familiar with social value terminologies and the associated community impacts, the pick-up from Local Authorities, careers organisations and educational establishments has enabled Esh to maximise its support for people across the region.

“The social value weighting in tenders is on an upward trajectory and that’s where education and client buy-in is required. Thankfully though the pick-up from local authorities, careers organisations and educational establishments has helped Esh Construction maximise its support for people across the region.

“By working collaboratively, we can progress on the social value journey together and develop a lasting legacy locally.”

Volunteering forms a key part of Esh Construction's social value offering.
Volunteering forms a key part of Esh Construction’s social value offering.

Building on its community-focused roots, supporting communities and young people, and providing aspirational opportunities has been embedded into Esh Construction’s culture from day one. As part of its fabric, social value continues to thrive, and Esh is taking Yorkshire along on its journey.

Find out more about how Esh’s social value team can support you at https://www.eshgroup.co.uk/constructing-local/

About Esh Group 

Esh Group is a leading construction and built environment group of companies which operate across the North of England and Yorkshire. Through our main trading company Esh Construction, we provide civil engineering, commercial build, affordable housing, refurbishment, and retrofit to a wide range of private and public sector clients.

Led by teams of our experienced professionals, we work collaboratively with our customers and supply chain to find the most creative and innovative ways to deliver outstanding projects. We have an uncompromising focus on health, safety, and quality and continually invest in our workforce and new technologies to deliver the best results for our clients.

Committed to supporting the areas in which we operate, Esh delivers an industry-leading social value package through our ‘Constructing Local’ strategy.