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Kier Highways and Oxted branch of Yorkshire Building Society win awards for supporting Surrey communities

A highways firm has been recognised by Surrey County Council for a scheme which puts vulnerable young people on the road to a career.

Kier Highways was named one of two winners of the We Are Surrey 2019 Social Value Awards for supporting young people who are struggling to find a footing in the world of work.

The Oxted branch of the Yorkshire Building Society was announced as the other winner for supporting Oxted to become a Dementia Friendly Community – only the second town in Surrey to achieve the status.

The awards were presented on Wednesday 13 November at a ceremony at Guildford Cathedral staged by the county council. Now in their fourth year, the awards were set up to recognise and celebrate businesses which contribute to their local communities.

Kier Highways – a contractor for the county council – supports young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), who have a learning disability or have been in care. They are offered a 14-week training and work trial with Kier or members of its supply chain to help them develop job skills.

Nearly 90 young people have taken part in the scheme so far, completing more than 9,600 hours of paid work. Twelve have been offered full-time apprenticeships with Kier, 10 have full-time jobs with other organisations and a further 10 have returned to education. The annual social value of the project has been calculated at £420,000.

In Oxted, staff at Yorkshire Building Society trained as Dementia Champions with the Alzheimer’s Society as part of an initiative to ensure that people living with dementia feel understood, respected and confident in their communities. Staff then trained other Oxted businesses to be Dementia Friends and supported them to make their premises and activities dementia-friendly.

Other notable entries this year included:

* Ebbisham Sports Club in Epsom which hosted sports events to encourage older people to become active, reducing social isolation

* Playle & Partners which provided free-of-charge advice on contractors to a school in Staines

* Nando’s in Epsom which provided meal vouchers for homeless people and supported a local veterans drop-in hub

Colin Kemp, Surrey County Council’s Deputy Leader, said: “Congratulations to the winners and all those who were nominated – they have shown that by thinking and acting wider than just their own interests they can help make Surrey an even better place for its residents.

“These are just a handful of examples – I know there is so much more going on like this in Surrey, to protecting our environment, supporting more people into work or creating supportive communities which are great places to live, work and learn.

“But there’s always more that can be done so I would urge all organisations in Surrey to embrace the challenge and seek out opportunities to embed social and environmental priorities in their work.

“This was a great event with some fantastic networking. We’ll be doing it again next year so watch this space.”

The awards event was sponsored by Balfour Beatty Living Places which provided prize money that winners could donate to a charity of their choice, while Guildford Cathedral allowed the venue to be used without charge. The Federation of Small Businesses sponsored the networking drinks reception, providing a chance for businesses and communities to connect.

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