Social economy

Contracting partnerships that go further

Seamless, reliable supplier relationships. That is usually the main aim for businesses and authorities looking to partner with external providers. But what if those relationships went further than contract delivery and brought added value to communities and those in society who need extra support?

The advantage of external contractors is of course to bring in expertise and specialist support to deliver. idverde is well known for landscaping and grounds maintenance support across the UK and Europe and has been supporting the Northern Ireland Housing Executive since 2016. Since 2017, we have also been known for our contribution to Northern Ireland’s social enterprise agenda.

“It started six years ago with Enviro Care, a social enterprise based in west Belfast. They provide a vital service within their community, supporting participants who have no experience of employment to try outdoor work as a gateway to changing their lives,” explains Gemma Fawcett, idverde’s Sustainability Manager.

“We quickly realised idverde is perfectly placed to provide work, skills, and training to those who, for whatever reason, have struggled to get work elsewhere.”

That was the catalyst to team up with Social Enterprise Northern Ireland (SENI) who signposted Fawcett and her team to many other local social enterprises. These groups have since become embedded within idverde’s supply chain, bringing more value and opportunity than had been first realised.

“We realised that because grounds maintenance has a relatively low barrier to entry, we could reach those with varying challenges who are often excluded from the workplace. With the added benefits of working outside on mental health, we realised that if we provided strong support, we could help more people back into work”, continues Fawcett.

Groups like the Turnaround Project, who help ex-offenders back into work, Orchardville, who support people with learning difficulties and autism, and The Resurgam Trust, who support communities facing deprivation, have all benefited from partnering with idverde.

Bronagh Vallely, idverde’s Commercial Director for Northern Ireland is quick to reflect on the joint value. “It is fair to say we have benefited from the diversity of colleagues in our teams. We learn something all the time. In fact, now when we have a procurement decision, we first look for a social enterprise who can provide the service or solve the problem.”

Gauge Impact social enterprise, has evaluated the impact of the partnership with idverde. It makes compelling reading and cements idverde as a firm asset in the community, delivering far beyond expectations.

While idverde is well positioned to develop these links, there is potential for all contracting opportunities. Imagine the impact if all supplier and contractor partnerships went beyond the expected.

For more ideas and an insight into our work, speak to idverde before your next tender opportunity.

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