Driving social value through the pandemic | Wates

The Prime Minister’s recent announcement that we must ‘build, build, build’ to kick-start the economy after the pandemic was great to hear.

It was a clear recognition of the importance of the construction industry and the critical ‘trickle down’ impact it has on so many other associated industries and businesses.

From the moment the lockdown was announced in March, this has been something that was very much at the forefront of our mind at Wates, when we made the decision to do everything we could to keep our sites running.

Lisa Cunningham, Pre-Construction Director, Wates Construction Midlands

Protecting the health and wellbeing of our workforce

Once the Government had made it clear that that construction sites could remain operational, we worked around the clock to introduce processes and protocols to do everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of everybody involved.

As well as the practical issues, there was also the moral dilemma that every organisation that has continued to operate through the crisis has had to face, balancing the potential risks against the benefits of continuing.

For us, we believed that by stringently following the guidelines around social distancing and introducing other important on-site measures, we could sufficiently negate many of the risks. It is testament to the fantastic work of all involved that there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 on any of our sites since the lockdown was announced.

Wates' essential site operating procedures

Reopening our sites was about more than just business

For us it was more than just a business consideration when deciding to keep our sites open. As Boris Johnston alluded to with the ‘build, build, build’ mantra, there are many, many individuals whose livelihoods rely on a functioning construction industry and we felt we owed it to them to do our best.

While there would have been a serious impact our own team, sub-contractors and suppliers, we also knew that there would have been some businesses and individuals involved in our projects who would be disproportionally affected if all our sites ground to halt indefinitely, including, for example, social enterprises.

For many years now Wates has committed to supporting social enterprises businesses that support key causes and plough their profits back into the local community on every one of its construction projects and, by their very nature, they are reliant on organisations like us to be able to carry out the fantastic work they do.

Supporting businesses that give back

One of the social enterprises with which we work is Recycling Lives, a waste management business committed to changing lives through programmes to support the homeless, reduce reoffending and to deliver food to support small charities and community groups.

Another is Nuneaton Signs, a high-quality signage business that provides meaningful employment to the disabled and currently has almost 30 employees with either a physical disability or a mental health condition.

The value these businesses bring to the community cannot be underestimated and the support they offer has never been so important, so for us to be able to continue to support their critical work throughout the lockdown has been incredibly important to us.

So we are definitely ready to rise to the Prime Minister’s challenge and help the economy get back on its feet. We will be doing our best to support as many individuals, businesses and communities along the way.

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