ENGIE - Finalist for the Experian Award for Building Stronger Communities

A social enterprise that helps local communities
  • By improving social wellbeing
  • By investing in the local economy
  • By enhancing the urban environment

What if we could harness people’s intellectual capital, instead of replacing them with automation? This is what ENGIE'S programme intends to do.

Designed to deliver lasting outcomes of the Olympics, ENGIE’s programme to boost the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of those living in the six host London boroughs continues to bring real value.

Whether it was distance runner Mo Farah taking home two gold medals or wheelchair athlete David Weir hoarding four medals, the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games were a proud memory for many Brits.

Yet, against this backdrop of sporting legacy, some of the host boroughs are in the top 20 most deprived in the country. Low levels of skills, high unemployment and community marginalisation are just some of the issues these boroughs are facing.

Designed to help deliver the legacy of the Games, Our Parklife connects people with the Olympic Park, pooling skills and experience from the private, charitable and social enterprise sectors in one organisation.

Improving wellbeing

Conceived by ENGIE, the social enterprise helps local communities living in the six surrounding host Olympic Boroughs by improving people’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing.

By offering employment, training and volunteering opportunities locally, the project up-skills people in entrepreneurship, innovation and business, while helping to build their confidence, too. Any income received is reinvested back into the park, in a bid to close the performance and prospects gap between the wealthiest and poorest communities.

For instance, ENGIE and The Landscape Group offer apprenticeships to local young people who are interested in careers ranging from horticulture and grounds maintenance, to facilities management, engineering and customer service. Meanwhile, Groundwork London delivers a 12-week programme of pre-employment training.

Those who are socially excluded, unemployed or with access requirements are often marginalised in their community. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a place with improved access so residents can meet and mix, increasing the social wellbeing of local people.

Environmental sustainability projects in the park help people learn about the subject and undertake initiatives in their own neighbourhoods. Employment and educational opportunities for schools and young people help tackle increasing environmental degradation and decreasing biodiversity. For example, primary school children can learn about the creepy crawlies that live in the park, while for older kids there are programmes for young engineers and budding landscape architects.

The programme also helps deliver a range of community events, from the much-loved Harvest Stomp (attracting over 3,000 local people) to the annual Park Champion Celebration event (involving over 100 local volunteers). All this has culminated in around £2.7m of economic and social value for the local economy.

The initiative practices what it preaches within its workforce too.

Last year, 50 of its staff were previously unemployed. Now, around £1.3m in value has been created for the local economy.

The social enterprise has also delivered over 70 accredited training qualifications and supported 15 apprentices in facilities management, horticulture, cleaning and team leading.

Plus,15 education visits have taught local young people about biodiversity, sustainability, career opportunities, energy and landscape architecture. It has also given bespoke volunteer placements to more than 20 local students with special educational needs from two local colleges.

Volunteer collaboration

Last year alone, over 850 volunteers gave up more than 13,700 hours of their time – a value of £133,600 to the park and almost £1.9m of value through subjective wellbeing, according to ENGIE. Over 67,000 people have visited the park – including over 9,000 visitors with mobility impairment - over the last two years.

It has been great news for ENGIE, too, thanks to the positive association with the initiative, improving visibility among key stakeholders and the local community. New employees are attracted to work for the company, which is engaging with local communities and meeting its CR objectives, while creating employee ambassadors has increased engagement by 8 per cent.

The cross-sector collaboration has also won ENGIE a number of bids both in the public and private sectors, and the success has achieved a 20 per cent growth in the public sector part of its business. The project also helped the company snap up the top spot in the Sustainable FM Index in 2016, which compares the sustainability performance amongst 23 facilities management companies.