Stuart Seddon: Making a positive impact is what defines us

  01 MAY, 2017      COMPANY UPDATES , CSR
Stuart Seddon: Making a positive impact is what defines us

Anyone who has come across the Novus Property Solutions name over the past two years will know that being a responsible business is at the core of who we are.
 
Yes, we’re a respected property maintenance and refurbishment company with more than 115 years’ experience, but that doesn’t define us. What defines us is the impact we have on people’s lives and the legacy we leave behind in the communities where we work.
 
This has been illustrated perfectly thanks to the incredible efforts of a team of Novus employees, who recently undertook a two-week refurbishment of the Busy Bees Nursery in the Parkwood area of Cape Town. The project has brought into sharp focus the impact that companies like Novus can have not just in the UK, but across the world.
 
The opportunity came about through our relationship with Stoke-on-Trent College and is something that will live with everyone involved for the rest of their lives.
 
Due to budget constraints, the nursery hadn’t experienced any form of maintenance or refurbishment in years. The facility looked tired and in some areas, very dangerous. However, our team ensured that the whole building received essential repairs, key areas were painted and rain protection was constructed in certain areas of the playground.

The community came together and were quick to show their appreciation for the team’s efforts in delivering a transformation that means the children now have a vibrant, colourful and safe environment in which to learn.
 
Not only do activities like this impact on communities, but they can also have lasting effects on the staff involved. The Novus staff involved soon developed a robust team ethic, as they were each challenged mentally and physically. It’s this approach to giving our staff life-changing opportunities that has seen us shortlisted for the Employer of the Year category at the forthcoming Construction News Awards 2015.
 
This recognition, along with our title as Santander Responsible Small Business of the Year last year, is proof that giving back to communities and your staff can have a hugely positive impact on your business.
 
If you haven’t considered how your business impacts on the community, there’s never been a better time to start. 

SEARCH
RECENT POSTS
How Eagle-eyed Contractors Can Help Landlords

HOW EAGLE-EYED CONTRACTORS CAN HELP LANDLORDS

Kevin Rhone, head of social value at Novus, explains why housing associations can glean new insights from contractors working in their communities and use them for more than completing building works. The social housing sector faces unending challenges. Not only are they tasked with regenerating communities, pressured to provide high quality homes and services, and challenged to increase their build rates, they’re also looked to as a key stakeholder in ensuring the safety and security of people in their communities. Having eyes and ears on the ground in these communities to make sure customers are safe and well is a bank-breaking investment, however. This is particularly true of national organisations borne of the spate of M&A activity in recent years. Monitoring communities more deeply than they’re obligated to do is almost impossible over their geographic footprints. Particularly since, for these organisations, huge amounts of capital have to be spent solely on maintaining stock. However, many RPs are missing an opportunity. They’re not using contractors’ insights, yet these businesses can offer a wealth of understanding about local communities. Construction and Maintenance Teams’ Positive Impact Of course, customer care officers can’t be everywhere at once. Construction and maintenance teams interact with housing associations’ customers every day. They see it all first hand and can be friendly faces on estates while also helping associations to identify solutions to regular issues. Many on-site professionals are keen to engage. They aren’t simply there to fix and repair homes, they build relationships with communities and in some cases, can be vulnerable people’s most frequent visitor while they’re around. They will regularly help elderly residents with their shopping and can be the first to discover if they’ve had an injury. Housing associations can also ask these teams to be vigilant for signs of violence and abuse and can ask them to keep their eyes open in areas where there are suspicions of drug use. While, yes, any responsible person would report illegal activity, contractors can help further by identifying trends too – how or why certain issues may be cropping up frequently. Using them in this way can help housing associations think up new ideas of how they might be better addressed. CSR Programmes It’s not just about pointing out the problems too. Many contractors have CSR programmes and housing associations could also use these to proactively address challenges in their communities. We run a national CSR programme called Changing Lives. So far, we’ve changed over 33,000 lives since 2015 through community projects that provide work opportunities or skills development or regenerate certain areas to help improve aspirations. One of our projects in the last year saw us work with a national housing association to provide temporary accommodation for homeless young families in Sheffield, for example. Advice for Landlords Landlords can do this by opening the channels of communication. Contractors and their on-site teams can provide regular updates or join team meetings to discuss issues on estates. They can also work in conjunction with customer care teams during their day-to-day work too, offering opinions, advice and useful context before officers contact residents. Contractors are a resource often under-used in this respect. However, landlords could not only get a better understanding of the real issues in their estates, but get the insight needed to help them solve them, by involving the people who are in their communities every day.