Bron Afon – Social Value for Future Generations

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Bron Afon – Social Value for Future Generations

Submission summary – Dusi Thomas, Sustainability & Environmental Manager, Bron Afon Community Housing

Bron Afon’s Sustainability Gateway tool is an innovative and yet simple tool that helps embed
sustainability and social value into business-as-usual operations and decision making.
In the past, our community funding scheme has been based on a first come first serve basis,
focusing mainly on immediate, physical outputs proposed by applicants. Although benefits are
delivered and many community initiatives have been enabled, we were unable to meaningfully
demonstrate how our community investment actually linked to Wales’ well-being goals, and
what social values we consciously focussed on or measured.

The Gateway has provided a practical step to enable our Community Development team to
assess each of the applications to the funding scheme “Pitch for Pound” through the lens of
Wales’ well-being goals and sustainability, focusing on the social value that each application
offers.

Each proposed community project is assessed against three sets of criteria:
i) Assessment on the sustainable development ways of working. The successful project must
demonstrate that it aims to or has been developed based on ways of working identified under
the Well-being Act. These are prevention, integration, collaboration, involvement, and long term.
ii) Assessment on support to well-being goals. The Gateway dictates that the successful
application must demonstrate a clear contribution to at least one of the 7 well-being goals.
ii) Assessment on negative impact on the well-being goals. The Gateway ensures that Bron
Afon’s funding is not awarded to a project that will or can potentially contradict or compromise
Wales’ well-being goals.

Through these criteria, the Gateway makes the policy jargon more relatable for staff and for
applicants. It allows our staff to explore ways to assist applicants to improve their proposed
community projects, in order to maximise the value for local communities and for Wales.
Sustainability Gateway provides transparency in decision-making process, allowing the
Community Development team to form a clear justification for their decision and makes this
the information available to share with applicants when required.
Collectively, the nine community projects that were awarded funding between January and July
2021 are shown to contribute to all the 7 well-being goals for Wales. Specifically, they all have
an element to promote a more equal Wales.

 

Submission outcomes

Whilst we are working to develop and introduce our corporate position and procedure to
identify and capture the social value we deliver, there is a challenge of getting our workforce at
all levels to see the relevance of the sustainability and social value agenda in their jobs. Unless
this agenda is part of our business-as-usual operations, social value delivery and effort to
progress towards sustainability will be regarded as an ‘add-on’ to day-to-day jobs.
We developed, tested and introduced the Sustainability Gateway tool to tackle this challenge. We
believe this is an innovative but yet very simple and practical tool that has helped us embed the
sustainability and social value agenda into our decision making processes and business
operations.
The tool is simple and can be shared with other organisations that are interested in embedding
Wales’ well-being goal in their operations.
Applying the Sustainability Gateway to our community funding scheme has provided evidence
to demonstrate to the wider business what ‘good’ looks like and how sustainability and social
value can be practically incorporated and delivered as business-as-usual. Key outcomes are
highlighted below.

  1. Embedded the well-being goals and social value in business-as-usual and decision making
    The Sustainability Gateway tool has provided a practical way to embed well-being goals and
    social value agenda into the decision-making process for Bron Afon’s community finding
    scheme.
  2. Transparent decision-making process
    The criteria of the Gateway provides clear explanations to aid assessment and decision. The
    Gateway is a user-friendly MS Excel tool that enables a record of decisions and justifications
    behind assessment results. This can be used to engage in discussions internally and externally
    (the applicants), which helps improve the proposed projects so that it aligns with the
    sustainability and social value agenda. The process is auditable and it encourages constructive
    discussions in order to maximise values of proposed community projects.
  3. Improved awareness and understanding of workforce and community, promoting greater
    contributions toward the well-being goals.
    Through the use of the Sustainability Gateway, staff as well as partners in the community
    become increasing more familiar with what the well-being goals mean in practice and how they
    can contribute and help promote them in the communities. By having the sustainable
    development ways of working incorporated into the Gateway, it also helps to ensure that good
    ideas of today can deliver long term and sustainable outcomes, in a way that does not cause
    issues in the future.
  4. Clear linkage from policy and corporate agenda to outputs delivered within the communities
    Applying the Sustainability Gateway tool in our community funding scheme has given us a
    practical way to turn a high-level policy and corporate agenda into real outcomes for the
    community. This allows front-line staff to give a direct contribution to business objectives, with
    demonstrable outputs and outcomes which sit within the corporate narrative. As such, outcomes
    delivered can be recorded and measured in a way that fits with the sustainability, well-being
    goals, and social value agenda.

 

Judging comments by Leanne Millard

❝We are pleased to present this award to Bron Afon Community Housing for the Sustainability Gateway and Community funding scheme

Whilst working on embedding their approach to maximising and measuring socials value, Bron Afon have introduced an innovative but simple tool that translates and makes relevant the vision of a sustainable Wales to enable real and tangible outcomes for the community. Although not listed as a public body under the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015, Bron Afon has made a public commitment to contribute towards a single vision of a sustainable Wales, and have adopted the 7 well-being goals and the ways of working introduced under the Act to guide their decisions and actions by embedding the concept of sustainability and social value into their operations is making sure they are relevant and relatable for staff and customers by developing the Sustainable Gateway tool its aim is to ensure that policies, strategies and projects are demonstrably aligned with sustainable development principle and the well-being goals, and therefore social value is considered as a core business function.

The Sustainability Gateway has been used as part of their community funding scheme. As a result, they were able to demonstrate that their funding decision maximises contributions from Bron Afon and the communities towards the vision of a sustainable Wales. This approach has proven to positively engage staff and community in the sustainability and social value concept, raising their awareness of how they can contribute to this.

Bron Afon has for some time focused on their communities and money from the community funding scheme has been allocated on a first come first serve basis, focusing mainly on immediate, physical outputs proposed by applicants. Although benefits were delivered and many community initiatives have been enabled, Bron Afon was unable to demonstrate clearly how the community investment actually linked to Wales’ well-being goals, and which social values.

Between January – July 2021, Bron Afon awarded funding to nine community projects using the Gateway tool as part of the process.

The Gateway has provided a practical step to enable our Community Development team to assess each of the applications to the funding scheme “Pitch for Pound” through the lens of Wales’ well-being goals and sustainability, focusing on the social value that each application offers.

The judges said that this was an excellent scheme and were impressed on how Bron Afon Community Housing has embedded the tool to support their communities and delivering the goals of the wellbeing act successfully. Well done to all involved!❞