What is social impact?
Social impact is the effect that our company actions have on people and our community and ultimately, it’s about creating permanent, positive and significant social or economic change through deliberate activities.
In early 2017, Sellafield Ltd’s social impact strategy was agreed by the company board. At that time, much of our social impact focus was centred around the delivery of a specific set of outcomes with the building of a new school at Campus Whitehaven.
If I’m honest, outside of the Campus, some of our social impact efforts at that time lacked a focus on sustainable outcomes and instead sometimes looked to deliver quick, non-sustainable wins.
As the social impact efforts continued to focus on the new school build in Whitehaven – so other long-term initiatives being put forward by the community began to slow.
Because the organisation had been focusing on the campus project, conversations with our stakeholders had stalled a bit, and people had stopped putting their projects and ideas forward for consideration.
For any social impact strategy to deliver, it needs to generate a good flow of different projects being put forward. This is because some projects will be successful and may even gain additional funding, where others will fail to move past the planning stage.
A change in approach
Today, our company social impact strategy takes a more collaborative, long-term approach and is conducted with the wider community and stakeholders near our sites.
As a first step, Sellafield Ltd took the company's agreed social impact strategy out into the community and to stakeholders, including Copeland Borough Council, Allerdale Borough Council, Cumbria County Council, the Unions, the Cumbria LEP and the West Cumbria Sites Stakeholder Group. (WCSSG).
The strategy sets out what we’re about as a business and what’s important to the organisation.
A notable element of the strategy is that it’s based around many of the UN’s sustainability goals. This puts Sellafield Ltd, as a company, in a great place to deliver not only things that benefit communities close to our sites but aligns us with government and our owners the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The goals that it outlines are goals that we also want to see as a business, from quality education to gender equality to decent work and economic growth.
We work with experts outside the company and we’ve also commissioned reports that gave us an evidence base for our activity and the ability to measure how effective our supported projects were and are.
Sellafield Ltd social impact objectives
As a quick reminder our 5 strategy objectives are:
1. Thriving communities – Social impact activities sustain and enhance community assets and address community needs
2. Resilient economies – Resilient, inclusive and growing local economies creating and securing new opportunities
3. Sustainable incomes – Inspiring skills, education and personal development activities improve access to sustainable incomes
4. Collective impact – Effective stakeholder and partnership working for collective impact
5. Social value chains – increasing impact, scale and duration of our supply chain activity in support of citizens, communities and our local economies
I’ve tried to make our approach to social impact as simple but as effective as possible.
Root cause – Targeting our resources to seek long-term solutions
Co-create – Effective stakeholder and partnership working for collective impact
Leverage – Actively seeking to use our own investments to leverage further investment from others
Sustainable – Investments and interventions help create solutions that endure
Measurable – Outcomes and impact are reported and independently and externally verified
Today, Sellafield Ltd works to ensure that our stakeholders feel part of our social impact process. At each stage, we ask for their involvement in the creation of ideas and their delivery.
A good example of this is The Well Project which aims to provide the best learning and outcomes for all children and young people in West Cumbria, with a particular focus on those who are facing disadvantage. The £1.7 million project was developed in alliance with the NDA, Cumbria County Council, and the Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders.
It’s an important and significant evolution for us as a business because it demonstrates that we can look outside the organisation to find the answers we need.
Over the recent past we’ve seen a real move from projects fixing immediate problems to looking at the long-term and working to achieve a transformative impact.
We’re really excited about the work the company is doing and over the last few months we’ve seen so many people in our company step up and help during the crisis. Harnessing that desire to make a positive impact is a key goal for me as we transition out of the pandemic.
You’ll see today that we’ve given our social impact work its own identity and called the programme SiX – social impact, multiplied.
If you want to get involved or you’re just interested in our company’s social impact work on SiX please contact me or one of the social impact team.
We can do far more together than we can alone.