Building a better society, step by step

Volunteers from Skanska and Devon County CouncilVolunteers at Poltimore House have helped to build a new accessible path

Posted on: 10 July 2019

We all like to make a difference; to help at some level make someone else’s life a little easier.

That’s true of most people, but as organisations – big businesses – apart from the services they provide or the products they sell, it’s sometimes difficult for them to make a real difference. Something tangible.

This week, senior Managers from the Swedish-based Skanska, one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups, did just that. They took time out of the office, they rolled up their sleeves, they picked up shovels and they built a path to provide access for people with disabilities to explore the gardens at Poltimore House, Exeter.

Why? Their website says that Skanska’s purpose is to build ‘for a better society’. OK, but you don’t expect the bosses to actually swing the pickaxe, do you. And yet this week they did.

They weren’t alone. Skanska is contracted by Devon County Council to look after the county’s roads. So the council’s highways managers also put their back in, testing the adage more hands make light work.

Turns out, it was pretty hard work. But the results speak for themselves. And now the 16th Century Poltimore House, slowing re-emerging from dereliction, has a new linking footpath in the grounds that enable people of all abilities to explore the surrounding gardens and woodland.

It’s an interesting concept. So what else could like-minded organisations do to help society? What else could they do, beyond their job descriptions, to make a difference that improves people’s lives?

Well, it’s something Devon County Council’s thought of. The council contracts with quite a number of organisations, and it asks those organisations to give something back to local communities.

The term is ‘social value’, as in to give something back to society that is of value to communities in Devon.

Now, plenty of organisations would say that they already have a social conscience, and many, like Skanska, need no encouragement to demonstrate it. And that’s great. But wouldn’t it be great if more did?

Volunteer emptying a wheelbarrow of grit onto the new pathFor now, Poltimore can chalk up a brand new wheelchair accessible path through its grounds on its long list of renovations and improvements. And at no cost to the Trust, leaving hard-earned funds raised to pay for things and materials that volunteers can’t provide. Like a new roof, new walls, new floor.

Skanska’s and the Council’s management have gone back to their offices, weary but wiser. And already that path through the Poltimore’s grounds is bringing pleasure to those lucky enough to explore the gardens. And there’s the reward if one were needed.

To find out more about the Poltimore House project, visit their website.

To find out more about volunteering opportunities in your community, visit our Show You Care website.

And that term again, ‘social value’, it means making a difference, which is something we can all achieve if we put our minds to it.

2 comments on “Building a better society, step by step

  1. Natasha Cole says:

    Well done everyone. Accessible paths can “make or break” an enjoyable day out. I shall have to plan a visit in my electric wheelchair now.

  2. Jennie says:

    Fantastic to read this . Thank you to all involved #inclusion

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