Amy Dawson, Senior Social Value and Community Manager
Written by

Amy Dawson, Senior Social Value and Community Manager

About the 22 Bishopsgate project

As the tallest tower in the City, and one of the largest construction projects in London, 22 Bishopsgate presented a fantastic opportunity to generate social value and I am extremely proud of the results in the new Social Value and Community report we are publishing.

22 Bishopsgate stands at a whopping 278m tall and is designed to house a ‘vertical village.’ Built with people in mind, it features amenity spaces including a social food hub, a large cycle park, a gym with a window climbing wall, a wellbeing retreat, a destination restaurant, and a public viewing gallery on Level 58 that gives fantastic unobscured views of the London skyline. It is a place where people can meet, collaborate, and share ideas and creative thinking.

With a building of this size and scale, we had considerable scope to really embed social value and community engagement into the heart of our operations onsite to maximise the positive impact we were able to deliver within the community. It was a particularly challenging site in terms of site footprint and access, and we had a diverse mix of local stakeholders within very close proximity to site, including some who had had previous negative experience with contractors. Giving back and supporting the community, all the while being a considerate neighbour, was a hugely important aspect of the project for us.

Defining social value

For me, construction is not just about ‘what’ we build, it’s about ‘how’ we build – how we engage with people, how we share our journey with them, how we can give back to them. Through our projects, we have the ability to improve people’s lives in a number of ways, such as supporting them back into work, providing them with a trade skill for life and sustained employment, bridging the talent gap by promoting construction in schools, and recruiting local people for the jobs we create through collaboration with our supply chain partners. We also support local businesses and raise money for charity.

These are just some of the ways we create social value for local people and communities throughout the project lifecycle. The positive impact we create in the community is like a seed that continues to grow long after we are gone, ultimately leaving behind a lasting legacy for the people. This is what social value means to me. It’s about enriching people’s lives by maximising the opportunities created by our projects.

Measuring social value

The measurement of social value has become a key emerging trend within the industry. To accurately demonstrate and measure the social value we generate and invest back into the community through our projects, we have partnered with Social Profit Calculator. Social Profit Calculator is an independent software platform accredited by both Social Value UK and Social Value International. Prior to the 22 Bishopsgate project commencing we agreed a set of KPIs with our client which included targets around employment and skills, community engagement, volunteering, supporting local businesses and charitable works.

Using the Social Value Calculator tool (accredited by Social Value UK) we input our achievements within each KPI criteria area and the calculator – using approved government proxies from the HM Treasury and Global Value Exchange – calculates both the economic impact and social return on investment (SROI) that we have been able to generate. It’s a really exciting piece of work and allows us to demonstrate in monetary value the positive impact we have created during the construction phase.

Using this tool for 22 Bishopsgate, we were able to calculate that our total social, economic and environmental impact was £1.1bn. £90.7m of that figure is our social return on investment, and we also calculated a social profit ratio of £1.91, which means that for every £1 we spent, £1.91 was invested back into our local community.

Some examples of the social value created at 22 Bishopsgate

We have successfully delivered a number of positive social value outcomes at 22 Bishopsgate, including providing apprenticeships to local people, supporting local schools and helping to shape our community. Through our Social Value Framework, the project created 27 work placements, 97 apprenticeships, and 384 new entrant positions, as well as engaging 1,494 students.

Of all that we achieved, one of the things I’m most proud of is the charitable work we did. Through various fundraising activities and events, we raised £285.7k for charity, including £125.1k specifically for Chickenshed, our chosen charity. Chickenshed supports people from all social and economic backgrounds, abilities, races, and cultures, and brings them together to study creative art in a safe environment. At Chickenshed, diversity is celebrated and their mission is to provide a safe environment where everybody, regardless of background, has the opportunity to flourish. I’ve seen first-hand what Chickenshed do and visited their facilities many times. I have spoken to a number of young adults with physical and learning disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds, and seen just how much they can achieve. The difference that Chickenshed makes to these people’s lives is truly inspirational and I was exceptionally proud to have been able to support them on their journey.

The Multiplex approach to social value

Our approach to social value is special because we genuinely mean what we say – the proof is in our new Social Value and Community report. It shows that our commitment and dedication to creating and delivering on social value is one of the most important things we do as a company and one of the biggest things we focus on for each and every project in our care. We have a dedicated team of social value professionals who are passionate, motivated and driven to ensure that we deliver on our promises. It’s not about ticking the boxes, social value is built in to the way we deliver our projects and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Working on this project for the past five years, I’ve seen social value really pick up momentum and become a much bigger focus in the industry than it was when I first started back in 2015. The recognition and respect that delivering social value has gathered is truly wonderful to see. It has been so rewarding and 22 Bishopsgate will always be a project that I will look back on with pride.

About the author

Amy Dawson was the Senior Social Value and Community Manager for 22 Bishopsgate, with responsibility for maximising the social value created through our delivery of the project. 22 Bishopsgate achieved practical completion in December 2020 and now stands as the tallest tower in the City of London. The full Social Value report can be viewed below.