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Insights 4 Reasons why we can engineer better through social value

"At the heart of creating social value is understanding and supporting the communities we serve and delivering outcomes that have far-reaching, long-term benefits."

Resource & Social Impact Manager Alison Young is an employee at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, who embodies the motto. Based in Whitehaven and on secondment to The Nuclear Decommissioning Alliance (TDA), her role includes management, reporting and resource management. She also runs a TDA mental health group to support schools associated with 'Brilliant Cumbria.' She and her team get involved in their activities, supporting community mental health workshops through 'State of Mind.'

"It keeps me on my toes as no two days are quite the same. I wake up and can't wait to get going as something great always happens during my day!" —Alison Young

We look at how Alison and her team support 'Brilliant Cumbria' and 'State of Mind' to sustain long-term mental health and wealth in northwest England. It's a great example of how we can shape sustainable change for a better future.

Photo of Alison smiling towards the camera

1. We can heal communities through social value

The northwest has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, especially among young adults. Alison and her team target at-risk groups and their touchpoints.

"Sport is a big thing for Cumbria. Over the past six months, we've run 33 mental health awareness sessions with rugby league and rugby union teams across Cumbria. These involve super league rugby players going into clubs talking about suicide and mental health.

"Every time, I'm blown away with how men leave the session more open and able to talk. We also ensure long-term support is available after our sessions. So, we train two mental health first aiders from every club and provide them with information to signpost and support their teams going forward. We've also been able to get the super league players into secondary schools to speak to year 10 boys to help them open up.

"We're currently funding sessions for blue light services and volunteering services. The team has just put in a project bid to Cumbria County Council to support full mental health first aider courses for youth groups, sports groups, charities and social workers. We hope this will strengthen the knowledge and support in our local communities and create long-term change."

2. Our work lifts up individuals today and into the future

"'Brilliant Cumbria' teaches school children to be resilient and prepared. We want to give them the right tools and techniques to help avoid mental health problems later. We all know we will face difficult life events—it's unavoidable. The programme teaches both primary and secondary children about 'mental wealth.' It's all about fostering a positive outlook using simple techniques—the science of flourishing.

"It's a beautiful thing to be a part of, as kids can teach you so much. If you give them the baton, they'll run with it and inspire you. It's very humbling."

3. Communities keep building the legacy long after the project ends

"We hope to build a sustainably strong and stable community. Everything we're doing has a long-term view, especially our work in schools. Schools usually operate separately, but we're bringing them together so they can share, learn more and support students in the right way.

"We're helping nurture and develop important life skills not usually taught, such as resilience in coping with difficult situations. The students who are well-being ninjas and well-being ambassadors gain presentation and listening skills. It really boosts their self-esteem overall. We're really setting them up for future success. "

4. Social value helps you develop as a person

"This work has given me a fresh perspective on life and helped me live more in the present, as I know I'll never get any day back again. We're all guilty of waking up and being negative about the things we have to do. I used to react to situations a lot differently—but working with Brilliant Cumbria has allowed me to step back and see what's in front of me and deal with things differently. All of this has massively helped me when I work with schools."

Read more about how we're shaping a better future for the planet and its people.