Anderselite’s principal recruitment consultant Lee Moore and director Daniel Butler were joined by Balfour Beatty Rail's Senior Buyer, Gina Ratchford, to share the importance of sustainability with Swindon-based Nova Hread school’s year 7 students.
Anderselite has had a very close working relationship with Balfour Beatty for over 10 years, providing specialist staff across the rail sector. With the release of Balfour Beatty’s specific Sustainability Strategy, Anderselite has worked in true collaboration to support the company's sustainability aims, including building an Orangutan sanctuary at Paignton Zoo before becoming involved in Nova Hreod school.
Introduced by Lee's connection with the school, Balfour Beatty is supporting Nova Hreod to redevelop their overgrown and unusable garden for SEN students. The project is due to take place during the October half-term. They will be creating four fruit and veg planters which will represent each house in the school and will be built to a height that is accessible for every student. They are also planting wildflower beds and painting the existing shed to ensure it can be used for a long time to come. Lastly, they will be adding four notice boards, on which students can display their work to make the garden an enjoyable place for reflection.
Keen to continue the conversation around the environment Anderselite and Balfour Beatty were thrilled to be asked by the school to present to students during 'Our World Week'; sharing their knowledge and passion for sustainability.
"Paul Fuller at Balfour Beatty produced a fantastic presentation that gave the students a view of what's going on in the world right now on the topic of sustainability and the environment." Gina
Providing real-world examples and explaining the changes that the students themselves can make was a key focus of the talk. The team expressed that if every one of the 200 students who attended the presentation made a small change, it could have a huge impact on the school's carbon footprint. The presentation also communicated Balfour Beatty and Anderselite's sustainability strategies to show the students that organisations, as well as individuals, must be accountable too.
"We can't expect young people to change the way that they think unless we do the same. We focused on the construction industry generally, it was a great opportunity to share, not just the sustainable work that we do, but the work that we do as businesses." Gina
The team have been invited back to the school for a careers event and they plan to show students the wide range of different jobs available that make great careers in the industry.
"Although the conversation started predominantly around sustainability, we want to build on the relationship and continue working with the students. Not just on the sustainable practices, but also on how we can support them to get a career in the construction industry in the future." Gina
The reaction from the students was overwhelmingly positive. The team were impressed by the levels of engagement and pre-existing knowledge that the students had.
"I was blown away by how interactive they all were. Before the presentation, we were worried that the students might not be responsive and that there might be tumbleweed moments. But they were engaging with us." Gina
"Some of the things we were talking about they already knew, reducing plastic use and the impact of palm oil for example. At 11 and 12 it was encouraging to hear their informed opinions, questions and, at times, fears for the future. It was great to see them taking such an interest." Dan
The students asked a wide range of questions, covering big ideas such as 'Can new sciences bring back extinct animals?' to ones more closely related to the conversation such as 'can we change buses so that they're all electric?' and 'can we put solar panels on roofs of all new buildings?' The students also asked some difficult questions about the effects of climate change and whether we will be able to reverse the damage that has already been done.
"Gina answered this question well. She explained that there is no timeline and that these students are the ones that are going to change the world. If they start doing the little things now, it's going to have a massive impact by the time they are in their thirties - creating a better environment for them, for their kids and their kids" Lee
However, one of Nova Hreod's teachers explained that some students don't necessarily have enough support at home to allow them to consider issues like sustainability and the environment. As such, given the importance of engaging individuals at a young age, the team are considering expanding their reach to other schools allowing a wider student community to learn and engage in the sustainability narrative.
"We spoke yesterday about wanting to do something similar in other schools because it is so important. It's the best time to do it as you must focus on the generations that will a. be affected the most and b. will be responsible for making the big changes. If we engage with them now they will understand, feel responsible and be able to lead us into a sustainable future." Gina
Going beyond grassroots engagement, Anderselite and Balfour Beatty are committed to making a difference to our planet by improving the sustainability of their work and their supply chains. For example, Anderselite has recently changed our PPE supplier to one with a completely neutral carbon footprint.
"Our previous PPE provider sent us any PPE that landed on the shelf, no matter the cost to the environment through production or shipping. Now, when we order PPE we're confident that there's no carbon impact from it being delivered or produced. We also run a sustainability scheme taking used PPE that isn't damaged and donating it to charities or causes who can re-use it." Lee
For Balfour Beatty sustainability is a key driver and they are embedding sustainable practices at every stage of their processes.
"Sustainability is becoming more and more prevalent. We've recently switched to using only eco products to reduce our carbon footprint. On work sites, we use sustainable PPE and when we're looking at new subcontractors or suppliers, we rigorously check their sustainable procedures and policies. We only want to work with people that have the same mindset as us and this is filtered into everything that we do." Gina
The team believe that collaboration and sharing best practise is the key to enabling a sustainable future and it's something that they hope to continue, not just in their community work, but throughout all aspects of business. Dan remarks that Balfour's approach to supply chain collaboration is market-leading.
"We don't have anybody else that operates in such a collaborative way and therefore achieves the results that Balfour does. We're very proud of this positive relationship which enables us to take part in projects that benefit the wider community and complement our wider sustainability goals." Dan
"Traditionally many industries had the attitude of 'if you beat your suppliers with a stick, you'll get more out of them'. But it's much better if you collaborate with your supply chain, as evidenced by our work with Anderselite. If you cultivate these relationships, they benefit everyone and we can make big changes together." Gina
"We can all do things individually and that's great. But even when just the three of us put our heads together, we were able to impact that community of students and hopefully spark sustainability awareness. It just goes to show the value of diversity; the power of what different minds and different thought processes can do when they're brought together." Lee
At Anderselite we're committed to working in partnership with our contractors, clients and wider supply chain to make a tangible, positive change to the world around us.
We're embarking on a programme of activities to raise awareness, embed sustainable working practices and encourage the next generation to be sustainably aware.
If you would like to know more about Anderselite's commitment to the planet and the benefits of working with a responsible recruitment partner, get in touch with Daniel.Butler@anderselite.com