Welcome to the first edition of our newsletter! We’re celebrating spring with a rundown of news from our network and the wider industry, along with some of our thoughts about issues that affect us and our partners.

In this issue:

Featured Story

Building a Better Future:

Why Social Enterprises Belong in your Supply Chain

Finding the right suppliers to partner with is essential to the success of any project. An efficient and cost-effective solution will allow things to run smoothly. Suppliers who don’t meet your needs can blow your budget, cause you delays and generally leave you tearing your hair out. So why do social enterprises earn their place in your supply chain?

Work with some of the most committed teams in the country

Social enterprises are businesses. They work to generate profits because they use those profits to create positive social impact, by reinvesting them into things like creating jobs, training programmes, supporting disadvantaged groups within local communities, or helping the environment. These mission-led organisations are staffed by people who believe in the power of their work to make the world a better place. They know that the only way to achieve their goals is by building up the sort of long-term relationships with clients that will last years, rather than taking a quick one-off profit. They also know that if they mess up, they’ll be harming the causes they believe in. Their mission is not a distraction, it’s a key reason why they will try and give you the best possible service.

Change the world for the better with people who share your goals

In construction and beyond, we all hope that the things we build or make will have a positive impact. Working with social enterprise can double that impact, so for example building a school can not just create an inspiring environment for the next generation but help offer a second chance for people who missed out on education the first time round. It’s a great way to ensure you are creating social value with every contract and working with people who are committed to helping the environment.

Build stronger communities

Flourishing local communities provide more opportunities for your business. Social enterprises are working to give people the skills and confidence they need to take up jobs and training opportunities, and addressing problems like homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and long-term unemployment. They are particularly well placed to tackle the rise in economic activity which has been apparent since the pandemic.

Create a positive narrative

Social enterprises love to let you know how partnering with them has made a difference with case studies, impact reports and even videos. You’ll get a chance to share these inspiring stories with fellow employees, and they will make eye-catching content for company social media, reports and presentations.

Increase diversity

This is a sector where you will find businesses that are much more likely than in the mainstream to be owned and run by women or people from ethnic minority backgrounds, they demonstrate better gender pay ratios, and they are more likely to be located within areas of deprivation. They have proved resilient despite the pandemic and other recent economic shocks. The sector currently accounts for over two million employees across the country.

Find innovative partners

Every social enterprise starts with the desire to do things differently. This innovative mindset creates new solutions to the challenges facing our planet and communities, and can benefit you by bringing you a fresh look at meeting your needs.

Discover large scale organisations

It’s easy to think of social enterprises as small players who can only deal with marginal items in the supply chain. In fact, many have multi million pound turnovers and are able to implement pre-qualification requirements for the most demanding contracts. You’ll find that from health and safety to modern slavery policies, their mission-led focus makes them more deeply committed to following best practice.

The future

With an anticipated change in government, incorporating social value and creating training outcomes are likely to become even more important in your purchasing decisions. The drive to achieve net zero will remain at the forefront of procurement strategies. Building a diverse supply chain and partnering with social enterprises can help future proof your organisation.

Network Spotlight: Oxford Wood Recycling

Removing barriers to employment for everyone:

Wood to Work

Oxford Wood Recycling (OWR) has been saving resources by collecting waste timber and supplying reclaimed wood to their local community since 2005. The social enterprise has a partnership with Oxfordshire County Council’s supported employment service to run the Wood to Work programme.

This project is part of OWR’s mission to change lives, and aims to help individuals who have barriers to entering the workforce such as health problems or disability. The programme gives participants the skills and support they need to secure employment, from pre-work confidence-building to help with job searches, as well as ongoing support during the crucial first months after they get a job.

A Supportive and Tailored Approach

The Community Wood Recycling model allows Oxford Wood Recycling to offer trainees a unique opportunity. Participants get all-important work experience by taking on a wide variety of activities within the business, from making things to customer service. OWR’s experienced employment coach creates a vocational profile for them, identifying strengths, development areas, and career aspirations. This personalised approach allows people to discover strengths they didn’t know they had and develop the enthusiasm for work which will carry them into long term employment. The employment coach assists with job searches, CV writing, application guidance, and interview coaching for suitable positions. The programme has many success stories with participants finding paid employment or going on to further training, all while benefitting from continued support.

A Hub for Sustainability

As well as wood recycling and training, OWR is a local hub for environmental best practices, hosting:

  • A Library of Tools
  • A Refill Station provided by SESI refills
  • Abingdon Carbon Cutters Repair Cafe
  • Woodworking courses

All these activities along with regular open days mean that OWR is making its local community a more sustainable place.

Sustainability News For You

News From Our Network

Want to get involved?

There are all kinds of ways to support our work while getting a great deal. If you work at a business which creates a lot of wood waste, you can use our wood waste collection service. If you’re interested in timber, wooden products, or volunteering, get in touch with your local enterprise to find out more.