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Engaging and communicating - social impact's key principles


The Meeting Place team had the privilege this week of being invited to the Socius Impact Showcase, a celebration of best practice in all things social impact.

I was fortunate enough to be joining an impressive collection of minds to speak at the event, each of us giving an insight into how we approach social impact to deliver good for communities.  

We heard from the excellent Tariq Sadiq, whose work with Cambridgeshire’s Long Road Sixth Form College showed the real impact businesses can have on creating career pathways for students.

Meanwhile, Isabelle Parasram OBE, the CEO of Social Value UK, focused on the need for practitioners to assess the negative value as well as the positive value caused by new developments, enabling developers to understand the overall net impact for communities.

Sophie White from Aviva Capital Partners, who’ve teamed up with Socius to bring forward proposals for the world-leading London Cancer Hub in Sutton, provided insight into their Social Action Strategy. They have a vision to build strong inclusive communities where everyone can enjoy a good life, focusing on outcomes such as financial resilience, skills, affordable housing and services.

Socius’ MD, Barry Jessup, and Executive Director, Olaide Oboh, showed how Socius plans to turbocharge social impact delivery across their development portfolio, encouraging innovation through engagement and collaborative partnerships to really make a difference for communities.

I decided to focus my talk on the first principle of social value – engagement.

So often, we see businesses in the industry become too fixated on the numbers attributed to social impact, rather than the meaningful outcomes achieved, which are often qualitative in nature. Before we do anything else, we need to take the time to listen to communities and really understand what their needs are.

Indeed, one of the key themes arising from this year’s event centred on the power of networks. The built environment sector enjoys a vibrant and dynamic network (just look at UKREiiF if you need any proof) but it’s fair to say we could all be doing a lot more, to leverage, partner up and deliver positive change for the communities we work in.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with the folks at Socius for several years’ now – united by a shared vision for delivering meaningful social impact for the communities we work in. We’re fortunate to be advising them on Socius’ and Aviva’s proposals for the London Cancer Hub (more details on this soon!).  

There’s a lot more work to do, but events like Socius’ excellent Showcase gives us the opportunity to push each other into new frontiers, making sure we’re never standing still when doing what’s right for communities.

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