A mission of sustainable growth

A new strategy has widened the focus of social impact at the largest nuclear site in the UK.

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At Sellafield Ltd, our ambition has never ended at our perimeter fence. Delivering our national mission to make Sellafield safer sooner remains our number one priority. But ensuring we deliver maximum social impact for our communities is increasingly important.

Earlier this year, we refreshed and relaunched our social impact approach. We called it “Six – Social Impact Multiplied”. It was a deliberate attempt to emphasise the importance of collaboration.

Creating partnerships is the bedrock of our social impact work. We work with our communities to identify need, develop plans with subject matter experts, secure funding via our owner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and deliver with our supply chain and partners.

The aim is permanent, positive change. We will do this through informed interventions that focus on the root causes of social and economic challenges in our communities. These interventions are rooted in evidence and aligned to the United Nations’ key Sustainable Development Goals.

If we get this right, we will help to equip our communities with the skills and ambition to grasp current opportunities and engineer new ones. We will move the economy of west Cumbria away from an over-reliance on Sellafield by using the site to help realise a more diversified economy.

That is what the Six programme is all about. It ensures that at least £10m per year is spent by the business in the communities closest to our operations. This investment leverages in funding from other sources – often three times as much – and addresses longstanding areas in need of improvement in those identified communities.

The end result is sustainability for the communities in which we operate, and in which the majority of our 11,000-strong workforce lives. In the process we are helping to create an environment capable of supporting the ecosystem of businesses we require to complete our estimated 100-year mission to clean up the site, and the skilled workers and healthy communities necessary for this mission to succeed.

This does not simply embody the spirit of the Social Value ethos: it brings it to life. Crucially, this work also helps to deliver the ambitions of the national Industrial Strategy, with its emphasis on place-based economic development, building upon the strengths of regions across the UK.

This approach helps to deliver the best possible value for the UK from the approximate £2bn of public money required to deliver the Sellafield mission each year. It now sits at the forefront of advanced business approaches to achieving social value anywhere in Britain.

Our Six programme focuses on the following objectives:

Resilient Economies: Projects that enable inclusive growth in the capacity, diversity and capability of our local economies

Thriving Communities: Projects that support sustainable activities that create self-reliance and independence

Social Value Chains: Projects that create maximum social impact through the Sellafield supply chain

Sustainable Incomes: Projects that improve access to sustainable incomes by increasing skills, knowledge and economic opportunity

Collective Impact: Projects that leverage collective impact and investment by working with our stakeholders and partners from local communities

Improved Performance: Success across these objectives helps to drive improved performance in the delivery of the Sellafield mission, and in the value provided to the taxpayer as a consequence.

Since 2017, this approach has delivered significant success for those communities closest to Sellafield’s operations. These include:

Campus Whitehaven
In Whitehaven – the largest town closest to the Sellafield site – Sellafield Ltd invested £10m in a new school campus which brought together a mainstream secondary school in need of replacement with a special educational needs (SEN) school.

This leveraged in excess of £30m with which a new school campus was built – representing the single largest investment in education seen in the town in over half a century.

The WELL project
Co-created with local schools and Cumbria County Council, the “Western Excellence in Leadership & Learning” (WELL) project is a £1.7m investment from Sellafield Ltd designed to raise attainment in every classroom in West Cumbria. It incorporates every primary and secondary school in the local authority areas of Allerdale and Copeland.

Economic development and diversification
In working to diversify those local economies most dependent upon Sellafield, investment has been made to leverage funding for the development of economic sectors unrelated to the nuclear industry. A £3.6m injection into a derelict bus station will soon become a business start-up centre for west Cumbrian entrepreneurs. A further £1.1m investment has helped to secure an additional £2.4m from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund with which to create a maritime activity centre on Whitehaven’s historic harbour.

Helping communities cope with the crisis
When the Covid-19 pandemic affected those communities closest to its operations, Sellafield worked with local recovery agencies to help provide food for the most vulnerable, as well as £200,000 for the procurement of 20,000 items of PPE for the NHS in Cumbria.

We are all facing an uncertain future as the post-pandemic recovery effort begins to unfold. Six cannot provide a roadmap for our community; in a globalised, post-Covid world no one can predict from where the next economic shocks, or indeed opportunities, might come. What we can do is create a solid foundation so our communities can weather the bad times, and take advantage of the good. Our mission will take approximately 100 years to complete; we are in this for the long haul.

Whatever the future holds, it is clear that meaningful relationships between government, local authorities, the private sector, and communities is key. We can only succeed together.

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