First presented in 2017, all winners have to meet a quality standard and this year there is special recognition for additional activities carried out during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, four businesses have been awarded Gold Partner status and seven have been named Silver Partners. All the recipients have demonstrated targeted local recruitment as well as significant social value activities in areas such as helping staff to increase their skills, raising aspiration in schools and supporting community activities.
The Gold winners are:
The Silver winners are:
As a third time winner of the Gold Partner status, Barhale Construction have consistently shown their commitment to Walsall’s communities with social value principles being embedded into their working culture. With a focus on preparing and providing opportunities to local people, Barhale are a regular attendee at the Walsall Works Jobs and Skills Expos. Initiatives have included upskilling current staff, improving their wellbeing and leading on efforts to increase the number of women in every aspect of the construction industry.
Midcounties Co-operative, who have won the Gold Partner award twice, were recognised for their well-established commitment to Walsall and the wider region. This covers many projects and activities, with one of particular note being the Street Teams initiative, which was their Regional Community Charity partner in 2019. The project works with vulnerable young people at any risk level, who have been the victims of being groomed for either sexual exploitation or to deal drugs for gangs. In addition to donating thousands of pounds, Midcounties staff have gone the extra mile and volunteered to visit people, deliver presents and decorate flats. Family days out for children who have never seen the outside of Walsall
Lovell Partnerships have been awarded Gold Partner status twice, which is a recognition of their policy to leave a ‘Lovell Legacy’ during all regeneration projects in the region. Each new development includes projects to provide work experience, apprenticeships and opportunities to local people, especially for those groups not traditionally accessing this sector. Lovell have been able to demonstrate a wide range of activities promoting construction in schools and providing employability to ex-offenders.
The newest Gold Partner is Starting Point Recruitment (SPR), a Walsall-based recruitment company that has been able to qualify for this award due to their efforts in delivering significant social value as part of their Managed Services contract with Walsall Council. These commitments include delivering Digital Inclusion Workshops for Women in partnership with School of Coding. This two-week training course was to empower women through digital skills, with all of the attendees being in receipt of benefits.
One of this year's new Silver Partners is HS2 Ltd, who work closely with the Walsall Works job brokerage and advocate STEM subjects in schools. Serco have progressed to become a Silver Partner from their Bronze award last year, thanks to their promotion and delivery of the Skills Support for the Workforce contact to upskill local companies and their efforts in supporting residents recently made redundant.
Each Partner has not just delivered an exceptional amount of work in the community over the last year, but have also been some of the leading organisations responding to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of this include Midcounties Co-operative providing a home delivery service, putting £25k into a food bank fund and a key worker fund as well as Serco staff supporting Walsall Council’s Kindness Box drive, gathering donations of craft items, books, food treats and pampering products to be gifted to those in the community having to shield during lockdown.
In addition to these winners, a new group of Bronze Partners are being recognised for their involvement in taking on local people through the Walsall Works programme and these included companies such as AF Blakemore and Sons, DKU Performance and Fortel.
The awards will be formally presented in October.
Deputy Leader of Walsall Council, Cllr Adrian Andrew said:
“I’ve seen some great examples of employers going the extra mile to put something back into their community and these awards are one way of not just celebrating their efforts but recognising them too. This is exactly the kind of work that Walsall Council would like to encourage and I would personally like to thank all the winners for the positive work they have done in Walsall.”
Walsall Council created the Walsall Works programme in 2012 and to date it has supported more than 3000 Walsall residents into jobs, apprenticeship and training. The usual delivery of job clubs, 1-to-1 appointments and the Black Country’s largest jobs and skills expo has been adapted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic with virtual and socially-distances appointments now being offered.