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'Heaven sent': matching a contractor with a Sandwell church for community benefit

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When our Social Value Officer Karen Richards introduced Sandwell Council contractor Parade Civil Engineering to St. Mary’s Church in Bearwood, it brought about the decluttering of the church garden to become a functioning community space again.

At Sandwell Council, we have a strong social value agenda, looking to work with suppliers who go beyond the scope of their contracts to bring wider social and environmental benefits to our local communities.

Our Social Value team works hard to help our suppliers find social value opportunities. This could be through fundraising activities, for example, or by offering their skills, knowledge, labour or time ‘in kind’. Corporate giving can help a business to foster team spirit, develop skills, grow customer loyalty and even win future contracts. Many suppliers are keen to get involved.

Happy coincidence

One such example was Parade Civil Engineering, a Birmingham-based company which delivers highway support to local authorities including Sandwell Council. The Parade team approached our Social Value Officer Karen Richards to see whether she knew of any community projects needing a helping hand.

By happy coincidence, volunteers at St. Mary’s Church in Bearwood had also approached Karen that week. They were seeking help to declutter their church garden so it could become a functioning community patio again.

Red digger at work in the garden at St Mary's Church in Bearwood

Karen matched the two organisations – and work began as soon as the weather would allow.

It took two weeks, with church volunteers and Parade staff working together against inclement weather.

Above and beyond

The Parade team went “above and beyond”, Karen told us. “Not only clearing away overgrown weeds and brambles but also relaying the paving stones to make the ground even”.

Together they made the cluttered space into a functioning patio, which the church community can enjoy once more.

Karen also said Sam Woods and Pav Virdi from Parade Civil Engineering, and their team, were supportive every step of the way.  

They sent a message saying: “We would like to thank Sandwell Council and their Social Value Team for giving us the opportunity to work with St. Mary’s Church. 

“Our team have enjoyed offering their skills for the benefit of the local community and having the chance to work with great people. We would also like to thank Midland Forestry for being a part of this project too.”

Clean and inviting patio garden at St Mary's Church in Bearwood

“We don’t know how to say thank you enough”

Sam Woods of Parade, Ruth Downing from St Mary's Church and Karen Richards from Sandwell Council

St. Mary’s Church community was delighted as well.

Ruth Downing said: “St. Mary’s Church is so happy with the outcome.  A big thank you to all at Parade Civils for all your hard work and Karen for the introduction. 

“We don’t know how to say thank you enough. We are now looking forward to holding our Christmas Fayre outside in our new garden this year.”

Pictured left to right: Sam Woods of Parade Civil Engineering, Ruth Downing of St. Mary’s Church in Bearwood, and our Social Value Officer Karen Richards.

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