Oxfordshire large employer joins Social Value UK in mission to do right by staff and community

Oxfordshire large employer joins Social Value UK in mission to do right by staff and community

Posted 2nd August 2023

We are delighted to welcome social enterprise Oxford Direct Services (ODS) Group to our movement.

To find out more about our newest member and why they decided to join SVUK, we sat down with ODS Group Social Value Lead Maria Warner to ask a few simple questions.

Tell us about your organisation:

Oxford Direct Services (ODS) is a purposeful business wholly-owned by sole shareholder Oxford City Council. We provide all of the statutory services for the district council and operate commercially providing services for other organisations in Oxfordshire and beyond.
In Oxford we empty bins, clean the streets, manage the parks and maintain the city’s 7,800 council houses.

Our business model means that 100% of our returns go directly back to the city of Oxford, benefiting the community as a whole rather than private shareholders – aligning with our ‘doing good’ goal which is at the core of our business plan.
We are one of Oxfordshire’s biggest trade employers with over 500 people working for us, and we’re committed to providing a great place to work. Our aim is to do business in a way that’s good for everyone; contributing to a more inclusive and sustainable economy that truly balances purpose and profit.

We consider the impact of our decisions on our employees, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

Why have you joined SVUK? What do you hope to achieve and what training or tools we offer are you most excited by?

Our services build upon our public sector heritage: we are nimble and commercially-minded, but also committed to doing good for both the communities we serve and the wider world. To this end we wanted to commit to an internationally recognised membership and framework to support the management and measurement of our doing good objectives. We are keen to use the principles offered by SVUK to support our decision-making and shape our future plans and policies.
We are also excited to use the frameworks on offer to help measure our impact and identify areas for improvement as we continue on our journey as a business driven by ‘doing good’.

How deep is your current knowledge of social value practice?

Doing Good is our approach to business and we have people in place within the organisation to ensure that we consider social value at every step, such as myself and our Organisational Development & Change Manager Vicky Nunes. We consider opportunities to add social value to our work regularly and support local organisations in their efforts too. But there is still a lot of room for growth, which is why we have committed to becoming members of SVUK in order to turn the wealth of ideas and good will we have into tangible action that can be measured.

Have you produced social value reports before and if so, how do you feel SVUK can advance these?

We have produced economic impact assessments, but we are looking forward to producing meaningful social value reports and this is one of the things we specifically want to be able to do in the next 12 months.

You have joined a global social value movement, what does this mean to you? How important do you think it is that organisations make decisions informed by their social impacts?

This is very important to our organisation, it is one of the three objectives in our business plan, and the purpose and belief in delivering social value is embedded in our DNA.

Social Value UK CEO Isabelle Parasram said: “I am delighted to welcome ODS Group to our movement. We want every organisation across the UK to make more decisions informed by their social impacts and I am moved by ODS Group’s commitment to this. I cannot wait to see how their membership progresses and encourage the group to share their experiences with other members, to see where best practice can be replicated.”