William Birch and Sons Ltd have been awarded a 2016 RISE award for delivering exceptional social value on a York school construction project. The Leeds Sustainability Institute judged a wide range of organisations and selected William Birch as an outstanding example of delivering sustainable social value to the community of York
The 93-employee strong building and refurbishment contractor was praised for their inspirational commitment to engaging local services and benchmarking the supply chain against the community needs, this included developing skills and training not just for their own employees but the wider community including students at the school and the locally unemployed.
When William Birch were awarded the £3.9m contract to expand the popular Fulford School and provide new sports and teaching facilities, the client, City of York Council were keen for the 142-year old company to deliver great community benefits in the process. This included apprenticeships, training, work placements, up-skilling and employing locally based unemployed people. This was alongside engaging a robust local supply chain for materials and services.
Simon Potter, Construction Manager said “As an SME William Birch recognises the challenges facing organisations of this size in an increasingly competitive market and responds through engaging local organisations first and foremost where we can, 73% of specialist subcontractors appointed to the project were from Yorkshire, 31% of these from the city of York itself. We also managed to procure 95% of our total materials cost sourced within 20miles of the school. This brings obvious sustainable benefits in terms of response times, an understanding of the local area, reduced transportation costs and ultimately the opportunity to employ local people on projects that are based in their own communities.
It was great to see so many employment and skills benefits through the project too, students at the school were engaged in construction and architecture related workshops and seminars, we held guided student site visits, four apprentices worked on the project, we provided a number of work placements and we were also able to recruit two new employees. All of these facets contributed to some great long term benefits to the community of York”
Cllr Keith Aspden, Deputy Leader and with responsibility for Apprenticeships, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that the team at William Birch has won a RISE Award for Social Value at the Leeds Sustainability Institute's award ceremony.
"This is high profile recognition for all the work the company does to support local jobs, apprenticeships, education and training opportunities through contracts awarded by the council and other employers. This award, coupled with York Apprenticeship Smaller Employer of the Year 2015, really does acknowledge the social value the company offers. It leads other businesses by example in investing in local talent to support business growth."