In my role at Maximus, I’m responsible for making sure that through the delivery of the Restart Scheme we deliver genuine, lasting social value to the local community. Not just through sustainable employment outcomes, but through wider social outcomes and the legacy we leave behind when the contract ends.
Through my experience working across the public, private and voluntary sectors over the past 15 years, I’ve come to recognise the importance of partnership working to deliver effective local services, and the value of empowering community organisations to deliver transformative and long-lasting change at a local level.
Our team followed this principle while developing and launching the Maximus Local Impact Fund over recent months. During the first round of funding, we invested more than £78,000 in 12 community projects and initiatives across South and West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South and East London. Projects selected for funding included cooking classes for families, a community café, training programmes for unemployed residents and staff funding for a specialist refugee employment charity.
Central to the success of the rollout has been our consultative approach. We understand that communities themselves are best placed to identify their own needs and challenges, and by seeking feedback from local and combined authorities, we ensured that funding truly aligned with the community’s priorities. We also avoided lengthy application processes – often a barrier to accessing funding for smaller community organisations – to make the fund accessible for all and encourage creativity and innovation in tackling community challenges.
We recognise that true community strength stems from collaboration, so whilst not every organisation was successful in the process, we invited all who applied to join our Community Partnership Network (CPN). With more than 350 members across the country, the network is a great way to facilitate collaboration between public, private and third-sector organisations – promoting a holistic and joined-up approach to community development.
We also took time to engage with all organisations to see if we could support them in other ways and build their resilience, for example through volunteering opportunities, both providing hands-on support and offering to share our expertise as a large business.
In Bradford, homelessness charity, Emmaus was awarded £10,000 during the first round of funding to help provide driving lessons and tests for their companions. In addition to this, more than 20 Maximus colleagues volunteered with the charity as part of our Volunteering Scheme. Over the course of the week, our local teams assisted with renovations at Pollard House, helping to transform the space to house Emmaus companions and tackle homelessness in the community.
The successful projects have offered us a glimpse of the positive change that can be achieved when communities are empowered and supported to make a difference where it matters most.
Building these long-lasting relationships with a number of organisations has been deeply rewarding on a personal level, demonstrating to colleagues, partners and the wider community our commitment to long-lasting change and the strengthening of local institutions. As a business it’s just a small part of our overall commitment to making a difference and leaving a legacy.