Ahead of Orbit’s Head of Community Investment, Sam Scharf, speaking at Homes 2015, here he writes about Orbit’s commitment as a long-term sustainable business to invest in its mission of ‘Building Communities’.
Celebrating a birthday or anniversary often triggers a period of reflection over our achievements and journey to where we are now.
As Orbit Group approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017, we can reflect proudly over our history as a long-term sustainable business.
We are currently in a period of significant change. Our sector and customers are facing welfare reforms, a major housing shortage and reduction in community services so our social purpose is ever more evident to empower the 100,000 customers we serve.
As a values-based business we make a profit so we can deliver our mission of ‘Building Communities’ – this enables our profit for a purpose culture.
For Orbit community investment is about utilising our own assets, our supply chain, partners and most importantly our customers to create thriving and empowered communities. This philosophy drives not just what we do, but how we do it. Whether through programmes that reconnect communities or internal delivery that provides tools to enable customers to build confidence and self-achievement, it is more than words in a strategy.
We have four priorities for investing £30million in our communities by 2020 – money, employment and skills, wellbeing, and digital. Each priority has a strategy and a local delivery plan based on unique community need.
With an investment of over £1m in direct delivery, as well as £1.8m invested in community schemes in the past 12 months, Orbit has supported customers to improve their digital skills, gain and sustain work and improve control over their money.
It is not just about the additional wellbeing of customers. Through investment in energy efficiency and warmer homes, and supporting environmental projects Orbit has supported over 8,000 customers with improving how they utilise their energy use and broader environmental wellbeing directly in the properties that they live in and we manage.
Our partnerships and investment in third sector projects, which account for over 85% of our funding, has enabled us to support new enterprises and grow existing successful programmes. These together have provided training and support to 3,500 customers in the past two years.
With firm delivery plans and targets in place, 2015-17 will see us continue to accelerate our deliver by:
- Providing employment and skills training to 2,225 customers
- Supporting over 340 customers to gain and sustain employment or start their own business
- Investing £4.2million in programmes across our core themes
- Increasing the use of and develop social enterprises
- Providing a core set of services to customers through a range of channels, such as money, employment and digital support.