An innovative scheme is helping to connect building contractors with local voluntary and community groups, to deliver much needed construction advice and services free of charge. As part of the tender process for planned maintenance works to Council owned buildings, East Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Council encourage contractors to undertake social value projects that benefit the community, be that work on Council or community buildings.
As a result, an innovative partnership has been created that connects the contractors with voluntary and community sector organisations. With the help of Brighton and Hove Community Works and the Trust for Developing Communities, local community groups identify small building projects that they need help with. These projects are referred to the building contractors who take them on free of charge as part of their social value commitment.
Last year St Richard’s Community Centre on the Knoll Estate in Hove asked for help with their leaking roof which was causing damage and disruption to the operation of the hall – having to empty buckets after each heavy rainfall. They needed a professional roof survey so that they could fundraise to repair their roof. Local roofing company Sussex Asphalte visited the Centre and provided a detailed survey and undertook temporary repairs to stop the leaks coming in, at no cost to St Richards.
Commenting on the project Centre Assistant Manager Ann Tizzard said:
“I cannot thank you all enough for what you have done for us, it means so much. I am now going to be working really hard to gain funding as soon as possible in order to get the rest of the roof done now that we have a report and monetary figures to work on. Thank you so much for including us into the project, we so needed the input and the chance to be able to have assistance. We had asked other roofing contractors if they would have a look and give us a quote, but no-one ever got back to us, so we had no idea, other than the roof was bad.”
Even better news was to follow when, using the survey as evidence of their need, St Richard’s secured £9,800 National Lottery funding and £5,000 from Sussex Community Foundation to have the roof repaired – works that were completed in January 2022.
Working with the Council’s, Sussex Asphalte have taken the lead in co-ordinating the social value projects, receiving, and referring community requests on to building contractors. In its first year of operation the initiative has delivered twelve projects for the community sector with an estimated value exceeding £12,000 worth of work that community groups could not have easily obtained.
“We’ve been delighted to co-ordinate and undertake works for local charities and voluntary groups who do so much to support local communities. Our work at St Richard’s shows how a relatively small amount of social value work can make a huge difference to their operation”.
Julian Coulter, Sussex Asphalte.
St Richard’s have subsequently benefitted from another social value project, having one of their fire doors replaced by M&J Construction Group free of charge.
“This initiative has been an opportunity for groups to access support they might otherwise not have been able to and during the process a clear and effective model has been developed that we hope can be utilised more widely. It’s been a pleasure working with the team at Sussex Asphalte and we look forward to continuing this going forward.”
Fabia Bates, Sector Support Manager, Brighton and Hove Community Works
Left to right: Anita Penny, Sussex Asphalte; Pat Weller MBE, St Richard’s Community Centre Trustee; and Ann Tizzard, St Richard’s Community Centre Assistant Manager.