Prioritising social value in West Kirby

Delivering social value is an integral part of the projects that our Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF) teams undertake.

VolkerStevin, in partnership with Wirral Council, the Environment Agency and AECOM, delivered a range of initiatives, benefitting the local community’s health and wellbeing while strengthening community cohesion, throughout the construction phase. Initiatives included:

  • Community engagement: Constructed composters from reused crates for the Friends of Sandlea Gardens volunteer group and volunteered our time to weekly leaf collections at the park's pathways.
  • Minimising disruption: Residents informed site workers that refuse collections had been regularly missed, through no fault of the works, so we organised collections for those affected.
  • Charitable endeavours: Coffee mornings, cake sales, and dress-down Fridays raised funds for the local Royal National Lifeboat Institution. With access to their compound restricted, we established a temporary Lifeboat Station, safeguarding crews’ emergency response times during peak summer periods.
  • Local partnership: Sponsored West Kirby Rotary Club's 2023 charity calendar and West Kirby FC’s youth team. We also sourced and installed the community Christmas tree when the original supplier failed to deliver.
  • Community support: Established and contributed to a foodbank and donated plants and planters to the community garden as part of the West Kirby in Bloom initiative.
  • Employment: Work experience opportunities and four full-time jobs were created (two filled locally).
  • Educational outreach: Facilitated school outings and held Q&A sessions for students interested in construction careers.

Lessons we have learned on this project include:

  • The whole project team must be aligned in identifying, capturing and measuring social value. 
  • It is important to agree parameters and targets before contract award and focus on embedding social value considerations throughout entire project.
  • Don’t ask for everything – tailor social outcomes to the area and see what is important locally to RMAs, local charities and social enterprises and build these into the strategy.
  • Share outcomes, both positive and challenging, as it’s a great way to develop and improve.

“Our visit to your site on Tuesday morning was a great experience for the students who came along, and me! Thank you for being so receptive and giving us a few hours of your time. The presentation was pitched at just the right level for the students and in a kind, inclusive manner. The students really enjoyed meeting you.”

Paul Lloyd Assistant Headteacher, Hilbre High School

Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee for Wirral Council: “The new flood wall at West Kirby is being held-up as an exemplar civil engineering and coastal defence project, not just in how it has been designed, but also for how it was planned, funded and delivered. Adding value to the surrounding area was also a very important aspect of this scheme and social value days, such as school visits, were key to getting local people and organisations engaged during the works.”

*This article was published in the January edition of Current Magazine – a magazine produced jointly by the Environment Agency and its framework partners. To view the full magazine, click here*