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Our approach to social value ensures that in addition to delivering a brilliant building for our customers, we also leave a lasting legacy in their communities by improving the wellbeing of the people who live there.

We listen carefully to people to understand their needs and plan where we can have the most impact on their wellbeing. That includes Willmott Dixon’s own people, customers, and supply chain partners as well as the organisations and groups in the wider community.

Our community investment and social value work is managed by the Willmott Dixon Foundation, set up in 2011 to coordinate our efforts, which range from volunteering in communities to buying from local businesses.

Responding to external challenges

Going the extra mile to help people is engrained in our company’s DNA. Our people were doing the right thing long before we used the term 'social value' to describe our positive impact in communities.

In 2022, the world felt like an uncertain place and the practical support we gave to both organisations and individuals ranged from food bank donations to refurbishments and training support. Below are three examples that responded to mental health challenges, the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis.

Prioritising mental health

Some of our supply chain partners do not have the same resources to support mental health in their workforce that we do, so we made our own training and support services available to them.

We worked with the Samaritans to refurbish their office in Leeds for the benefit of their team of around 150 volunteers who contribute to the National Samaritans Listening Service. Working with our supply chain partners, we were able to deliver a four-week refurbishment for the charity at a fraction of the cost.

Frank Jones, Samaritans Leeds Director, said: “We now have a vastly improved and refreshed branch, which will allow our volunteers to deliver on their mission that fewer people die by suicide. Countless callers to the Samaritans will benefit from this project and this is a great legacy for Willmott Dixon.”

The war in Ukraine

Our people nationally, collected donations and gave financial aid. Our North team funded English language lessons for 40 Ukrainian refugees to help improve their employment opportunities. And our IT department provided laptops and phones to Ukrainian workers in the supply chain, and offered internet calls from site cabins, to help people in the supply chain stay connected with friends and family.

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Cost of Living

Over the winter of 2022, we joined forces with charity Action Together to build 200 winter warmer packs to support vulnerable people and families in Rochdale. In addition, our people donated £650-worth of toys to Rochdale Council’s Christmas appeal and provided over £2,000-worth of safety equipment to support GCSE construction students at school in nearby Middleton.

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Creating lasting relationships

We have a strong commitment to give back to the community and build lasting relationships with the charities we support out of a genuine desire to make a difference.

Each year we hold the Willmott Dixon Classic, a cycling event for our people, supply chain and customers to enjoy a day in the saddle. In 2022, we raised more than £28k for Action Medical Research, the charity has been involved in the event since 2016 raising a total of around £250,000.

We have a long-standing relationship with the Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice near Arundell, which cares for children and young people with life-shortening conditions in Sussex and south east Hampshire. From hiking or biking hundreds of miles to raise money to volunteering time to help out on site, we have raised/donated more than £100,000 since 2016.

We competed in the first Pagabo Foundation’s Feel Good Games (below), coming in third place, and raising £31,000 for organisations that support mental health in the workforce. We continue to support the foundation in 2023.

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In 2022, our close work with the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, which provides emotional, physical and financial wellbeing support to construction workers and their families, led to Willmott Dixon becoming a 'company supporter' in 2023.

Connecting people with nature

We endeavour to combine our social value activities with our ambitions to support and enhance the natural environment.

We involve the community in our tree planting to help reach our target of 100,000 trees by 2030; for example, working with nature charity The Conservation Volunteers at Mansfield Park, in Waltham Forest. Here as part of our project at the Soho Theatre in Walthamstow, our people worked alongside 25 volunteers to plant a mini forest comprised of 642 trees to create a new pocket of woodland in an urban area (below).

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Trainee Challenges

Each year since 2014, the Willmott Dixon Foundation challenges a group of management trainees representing each of our local business regions to devise and deliver a community project that leaves a social or environmental legacy.

Fundraising is often part of the challenge, but the main aim is to elicit positive change through donations of time and skills. Projects have included incredible renovations, fundraising for charity, programmes to support people into careers, and more.

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The challenge embeds the principles of social value into our management trainees and gives them first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of managing a project that makes a positive impact in support of one of the three main themes of Now or Never.

In 2022, collectively, our trainees managed to:

  • Fundraise over £38,700 for charities and local community initiatives
  • Deliver employability programmes to 400 people
  • Recruit Willmott Dixon employees who donated over 4,800 hours in support of these projects
  • Supported/engaged with 12 social businesses (including social enterprises, and local charities and community organisations.

Find out more about our 2022 challenges, and other activities we delivered in our communities, here.