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Insights Increase your social value with our simple approach.

At the heart of our social value approach is our desire to bring enduring change to communities—which starts with understanding them and the kind of support they need.

Meet Keith Dunham, based in our Warrington office at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group. Like many of our employees, he has a few different roles. He's Regional Lead in our Local Transport Market team, Framework Director for Lancashire County Council and Project Director on several projects. He also leads major bids and supports initiatives that improve how we win and deliver work.

"I focus on problem-solving, improving our profit margins and driving growth across our practices, deciding what to bid for and how to win. I love that every day is different, and I never know what will crop up."

Keith is also an enthusiastic supporter of Let's Grow Preston, an environmental charity helping to improve green spaces while supporting local people's mental and physical health.

image of Keith smiling

Keith, you've been supporting Let's Grow Preston. Please tell us more about it?

Let's Grow Preston promotes physical and mental well-being by creating and improving green spaces. We've been supporting Grange Community Gardens, which provides horticulture opportunities for local people with mental health issues, enabling them to be active and contribute to the community.

The Grange site is huge, and there is always lots to do. They grow fruit and vegetables and distribute them to those in need. During the pandemic, with Fareshare and Preston City Council, Let's Grow Preston supported around 1,440 families per week and delivered 47,520 food parcels providing over 550,000 meals. It really makes a huge difference to so many in the community.

How did you get involved with Let's Grow Preston?

We were looking for opportunities to do some social value activities in the Lancashire area. So we contacted Grange Community Gardens and arranged to spend a day there — it was that easy.

As well as getting to know them and their needs on our first visit, we also got stuck in fixing some planter beds and cleared some of the site. Follow-up days were postponed due to Covid. But, last August, over 20 people from our Manchester and Warrington offices, together with supply chain partners, supported us with various tasks, including landscaping, clearing, weeding, fertilizing and planting. We've recently spent time pressing apples for apple juice and stripping willow for a weaving course they run at the site.

So, how can I increase ‘my’ social value?

Go for it! It's a great way to give back to local communities, and there are many opportunities. Getting out of the office for a day is a great way to reconnect with nature, spend time with colleagues informally and contribute to the community outside our project work. Spending time somewhere like Grange reminds us that many people are less fortunate than ourselves, and we can all give a little time to help. AtkinsRéalis gives us two days a year we can use for volunteering, so it's a perfect way to give back.

"If you want to develop your career, take opportunities to put your hand up and get involved with new things."

What do you like best about your job?

The day-to-day variety and range of opportunities: I've worked on many different projects, from small local road improvements to mega projects like Etihad Rail in the UAE. I've lived in five countries and worked with some fantastic people. There's something for everyone in our industry.

Who has inspired you and why?

I've been really fortunate to work with some amazing people at AtkinsRéalis who have inspired me differently over the past 20 years.

Mark Forrest's breadth of technical knowledge was incredible, and he taught me how to fast-track major projects in the Middle East. Terry Bradbury was our Network Chair for Project Management and taught me how to manage project finances. Ross McKenzie, Lizi Stewart and Paul Shepherd-Smith brought huge amounts of positive energy, becoming senior leaders at a relatively young age.

I've been privileged to spend some time with some industry leaders, like Keith Clarke, former Group CEO, and Sir John Armitt, chair of UK's National Infrastructure Commission. Both are visionary leaders who can influence at the highest level. I'm also regularly inspired by our Early Careers staff, who are super-bright and keen to learn.

Read more about how our employees are shaping a better future for the planet and its people.