“In addition to delivering a first-class service, providing other benefits to our clients’ stakeholders, their environment and the wider community is important to us. Through our Waterman Aspen in the Community initiative, we offer all our staff one day each year to undertake voluntary or charitable work, often linked to the interests of their secondment client.”
Mark Emberton, Managing Director, Waterman Aspen
In today’s socially conscious environment, employees and customers place a premium on working for and spending their money with businesses that prioritise corporate social responsibility (CSR).
CSR is a term that has come to mean whatever a company does to give back to the community in which it has a presence. Sometimes this involves volunteering or sponsorships but can also be our commitment to a charity or some laudable effort or cause.
Through our Waterman Aspen in the Community initiative, we offer all our salaried staff one day each year to undertake voluntary or charitable work for their secondment client or community in company time. Click here to view our CSR Policy.
Projects can be
- Environmental Activities – restoration of woodlands, trail paths, rivers, canals…
- Social Activities – refurbish property’s, paint a building, assist at a homeless shelter, litter picking…
- Specialist Activities – which take advantage of the technical expertise of our staff, for example designing signs for an event…
All over the UK there have been thriving projects and enthusiastic Waterman Aspen staff at the helm assisting in interesting projects creating a better environment and helping the wider community.
Here are some of the activities below.
Construction of 2 Kissing Gates and a Bridge
The original timber bridge had rotted away so this structure was also replaced which now, along with the new gates has provided a much improved experience for all users.
John carried out this work as part of Hampshire County Council Countryside services volunteer Rights of Way work party in Ashford Hill, North Hampshire.
Great work John – the before and after photos really show what a good job was done here.
Be My Eyes Volunteering Work
As part of our Waterman Aspen CSR programme, one of our clients, Manchester City Council, shared with us some volunteer sites and ways in which WA could help the community. Waterman Aspen have signed up to a few volunteer sites, and one of Divisional Director Linda McGregor’s choices was “Be My Eyes” as she has often wanted to find how to assist in this area.
The charity makes it so easy for support to be offered, using a simple phone app. As a sighted volunteer you help just by installing the Be My Eyes app and responding when the alert comes from blind or low-vision person requesting assistance to sighted volunteers.
With approx 278,000 blind or a low-vision users signed up to this, they can require help with anything from checking expiry dates, distinguishing colours, reading instructions, or navigating new surroundings. The support is required not just in Manchester but in the whole of the UK.
Linda commented “It’s honestly been a joy to help and chat as a volunteer and it has given me a further insight as to the challenges and also successes encountered in their life, despite having one of their 5 senses limited or completely impaired.
I’ve found it an interesting way to offer support, be it reading the details on a tin and describing how to drain tuna, to describing an item found in a garage that the person could not understand what it was or assisting when their normal aids were away or sick. Many of the people I have spoken to have good careers (civil service included) through the intervention of IT and specialised “readers”. I have also spoken to children or younger people and helped them with shopping online.”
Jade Tonge from Manchester City Council said “MCC encourage all of their suppliers to give back to the local community through various social value opportunities. We are delighted that WA has found a charity that goes the extra mile for those that really need it. A wonderful initiative that any supplier can get involved in.”
If you want to know more about it or wish to volunteer, the website can be found here Be My Eyes – See the world together
Canal & River Trust Plastics Challenge
Our West Midlands team recently took part in the Plastics Challenge, a clean up initiative implemented by the Canal & River Trust to help make local canals and rivers a beautiful place that everyone can enjoy.
Staying close to your home has become more important than ever in recent times. Sadly, the amount of litter and plastics in and around our waterways is still an issue as 14 million pieces of plastic end up in our rivers and canals each year. Plastics and litter on our canals and rivers are part of a much bigger global problem with over 500,000 pieces of plastic estimated to reach the ocean every year.
But together we can stop this. It’s the little things we do on our doorstep that can make a world of difference. If everyone who visits one of our canals or rivers picks up just one piece of plastic, they’d be clear within a year.
Starting out from our Cornwall Street office, our team used their Waterman Aspen CSR day to volunteer to pick up the litter from the canal in Birmingham City Centre.
Well done to all the team who took part and hopefully we can all take their example to keep our canals and rivers clean and plastic free.
CSR - Kingsbury Water Park
Amongst many tasks undertaken was the repair of the revetment around the kids zip wire.
It was an extremely wet and soggy day but that didn’t put a dampener on the spirts of the team of volunteers who pulled together to get as much done as possible.
Well done to everyone involved.
Search Newcastle Flat Pack Build
Some of our colleagues in the North East volunteered for Search, a charity that supports older people in the West of Newcastle. They offer a wide range of community services including group and 1-2-1 support, advise with claiming benefits and help accessing local services.
The group spent the day demolishing and building up furniture for Search in their new office space. Their work will help the charity settle into their office quicker and enable the majority of their employees to keep their focus on their valued work in the community.
A huge thank you to our colleagues who volunteered for the day!
Click here to find out more about Search and the fantastic support they provide.
Boldon School Design Project
Graeme Barella, Waterman Aspen’s North East Area Manager, introduced students at Boldon School in South Tyneside (North England) to the exciting careers on offer within civil engineering, setting the scene for their challenge.
Their brief was based on Newcastle City Council commissioning the students of Boldon to carry out the design for the new River Tyne crossing, presenting an opportunity to showcase their creative side during the course of the project.
Graeme helped the students getting started with their initial ideas and provided some basic engineering guidance, before leaving them to develop their solutions over a few weeks. He then returned as part of a Dragons Den-style judging panel to assess the final designs pitches..
Each of the three groups had five minutes to outline their design’s unique selling points, presenting models and sketches in an attempt to win over the five judges. The first group proposed a glass walkway over a road bridge to act as a tourist attraction, with the second group showcasing a hand-made cardboard model of a cable-stayed road bridge, complete with a built-in lifting mechanism that allowed ships to pass underneath. Finally, the third group took their creativity to another level and presented a tropical aquarium-tunnel for pedestrians.
After carefully considering each design, the judges crowned the second group, with their cable-stayed bridge, the overall winner due to their outstanding engineering judgement, commending their commitment and professionalism to the project as a whole.
Graeme praised those taking part; “It was great to see the creativity on show from some of the students. It was a really positive experience overall, providing an interesting challenge that will hopefully encourage them to take up a career in engineering. We could definitely use some of those innovative minds in the industry. I am grateful to Boldon School, Zenith Training and South Tyneside Council for asking us to take part in their business enterprise project and I look forward to taking part again in the future.”
The Big Clean Up Spring Event
Everyone who signed up helped to clean up their own neighbourhoods by collecting over 7,500 pieces of litter in our first week long event.
We have a target of 10,000 pieces of litter to collect over the 2 events so we’re confident that we will smash that target.
Thank you to everyone who took part.
South West Team Litter Pick for #BristolCleanStreets
Simon, Richard, Esther, Tapan, Ana, Kirpal, Conor, Michael and Adam all met and partnered up for a walk around the 412 acres (1.7 km2) of the Downs. Together, they collected over 1,000 pieces of litter which were deposited with the #BristolCleanStreets. Conor Johnson even reported how clean and tidy it was on the Downs on the Sunday when he met up with friends for a BBQ.
Kirpal, Richard and Adam even managed an ice cream!
The team said it was brilliant to finally meet up in person and take part in cleaning up the community in which we live and work.
Providing AutoCAD Training
Ross Onufryk, Senior Technician/Assistant Engineer (one of Waterman Aspens own AutoCAD Guru’s) provided the training and was ably assisted by Stuart Farnell (who has been seconded into Rochdale Council for the past 3 years and had arranged the training session).
As part of an agreed Social Value day for Rochdale Council, Stuart had canvassed each individual on their level of expertise and aspirations. The training was carried out at the new, modern premises of RBC in one of the many specialised training rooms where Ross was able to demonstrate various AutoCAD techniques upon the large wall mounted screen whilst the participants observed. The participants were then given the opportunity to follow suit on their own work laptops at their own speed, with assistance from Ross and Stuart as necessary. Ross was able to demonstrate various techniques from the very basic such as opening up the programme, creating a new drawing, bringing in various sizes of drawing sheet, importing OS backgrounds, how to draw simple lines and shapes, how to add text and dimensions and how to work with model space and paper space. The feedback from the participants at the end of the training was that they were delighted, and they had found the session very useful.
Both Ross and Stuart were able to witness a distinct growth in all of the participants confidence as the course progressed and it was very pleasing to see each of them moving on from at first being hesitant and nervous of the programme, to beginning to experiment with different commands towards the end of the session. It was stressed to the participants how important it would be to follow up the training by now trying to use AutoCAD whenever they got the opportunity in their daily routine. Stuart has pledged to be available to help with any questions/problems that they might come across over the coming weeks.
On the same day, Ross also provided some more detailed/advanced AutoCAD tuition to Stuart, passing on several techniques to improve and quicken up the use of AutoCAD that he has acquired over the years. Part of the reason was to ensure that Stuart could operate AutoCAD to the maximum to ensure he was giving RMC the most efficient service. The chance to learn advanced skills like this has proved invaluable and was something that really benefitted from being carried out in a face to face environment where questions could be asked and discussions about best practice take place.
World Heritage Site Painting Day
As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility which gives each staff member 1 day per year to carry out voluntary work within the community, 4 of our staff joined a group of 40 volunteers at Ironbridge in Telford to scrub down and paint over 400m of railings at the UNESCO World Heritage site along the river Severn’s Wharfage.
In 1986 the Ironbridge Gorge was one of the first locations to be designated as a World Heritage Site within the UK. This designation recognised the area’s unique and unrivalled contribution to the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.
Local councillors came along to join in with the amazing local spirit as well as photographers and journalists from the local newspapers including the Shropshire Star who published this report shortly afterwards.
The 4 members of Waterman Aspen staff who took part were Mohammed Sarfraz, Simon Wilkins, Connor Parkes and Chris Price.
Thank you so much to our staff and all the volunteers who finished the painting of the railings in super quick time due to the power of community.
A bit more detail about the World Heritage location here.
Andrew Herd Volunteering for NHS
As no-one is currently allowed to visit patients in hospital, a ‘Give and Go’ service makes it possible for friends and relatives to drop off things like magazines, clothes, phones/chargers, snacks and drinks or collect laundry. Andrew spent an enjoyable and rewarding day helping carry out this service in a socially distanced way with the team.
This is a vital service that lets patients know they are cared about even if visiting in person isn’t possible.
Andrew hopes to do some more voluntary work at Gartnavel in the coming weeks.
Thanks to Andrew and all of the NHS volunteers out there. Your care is much appreciated.
CSR Day - School Fence Painting
Waterman Aspen’s north east team partnered with the local volunteer centre and St Joseph’s RC Primary School to provide a fresh new look to the school’s rusty school gates and perimeter fence. It is the first thing parents and children see when they enter the school and the Head Teacher was overjoyed with the finished product.
During the current circumstances, it was a great opportunity for our staff to get together, catch up and provide something meaningful to the local community.
Thanks to all who took part.
Volunteering for Friends of Ladybrook Valley
Waterman Aspen colleagues seconded to Stockport Council (Gavin Lightbown, Jill Yates, Craig Peet and Gillian Kidd) used their social value day to support the Friends of Ladybrook Valley in Bramhall, Stockport.
Ladybrook Valley (also known as Happy Valley) is a very popular nature reserve for the local community, parts of which are also a site of biological importance. The site covers a huge 17 hectares and is home to the the Ladybrook River There is also a mixture of habitats including the ancient woodland of Great Reddish Woods.
Throughout the day, the team help with all sorts of tasks including:
- Constructing a hibernaculum for amphibians
- Cutting back brambles and holly bushes to allow light to penetrate the woodland floor which overtime will stimulate and increase the spread of the resident bluebell population
- Digging shallow drainage channels to allow water to flow off footpaths.
Fortunately, the weather held out and the rain stayed away for the whole day! A huge thank you to the team of volunteers who used their social value day to support this fantastic cause.
East Midlands Plastics Pick Up Challenge
The team collected 15 bin bags of rubbish and also received thanks from the walkers along the canal for carrying out the task.
Although it was muddy and wet, it was a great day and a great opportunity to get out and see each other.
Thanks to everyone who took part.
Manchester Social Value 2020:People, Place and Planet Conference
In February of this year Mark Woodhead, Associate Director, North west, attended The Social Value 2020: People, Place and Planet conference, hosted jointly with Manchester Council Manchester-based Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES). The purpose of the event was to showcase how concerted efforts over more than a decade ago made the Council an acknowledged national leader in social value. The Conference was attended by a mixture of Local Authorities, Procurement bodies, Consultants, Contractors and Charitable organisations
To explain, the term Social Value within a public business sector, relates to giving back and contributing to the local community in any way, creating and sustaining local jobs and businesses through conscious effort and awareness.
The joint aims and the message the Hosts wanted to share was to make sure that as much as possible of the council’s spending is retained within Manchester and Greater Manchester, in the support of local jobs and the wider economy. The economy sustainability would allow growth of local economies and address issues including poverty.
With such a drive to sustain local businesses MCC were able to demonstrate their commitment to Social Value. They achieved a fantastic result in increasing spend with local suppliers from 52% in 2008/2009 and raising the bar to now spend 70% in 2018/2019 pumping an extra £138 million into the Manchester economy. More than half of this spend in 2018/19 (50.5%) was with small and medium-sized enterprises. The Council is actively trying to make contracts accessible to these smaller businesses, for example by breaking big contracts into smaller chunks and cutting red tape.
The event showcased how the current Town Hall transformation project– which is worth around £170m – will generate an estimated extra £9m-worth of social value through jobs, training, learning, mentoring and volunteering opportunities delivered by management contractor Lendlease and sub-contractors. The construction programme has been broken up into around 150 individual work packages – more than triple the number of work packages you would expect on project of this value. It has opened the door to Small and SME’s allowing them accessibility to take part in the project and develop their local businesses.
Delegates from the Voluntary and Community Sectors attended the conference and highlighted how it was important that businesses-built relationships with VCS to provide support. Long term relationships were providing benefits to both the VCS and employees of Companies. Voluntary community Sectors reported that due to the awareness of public sector staff and suppliers– they could see commitment, ownership and deep pride in the support they were providing with MCC being at the heart of Social Value and asking for volunteers both from the public and their suppliers.