Sandwell Council’s social value initiative building bridges in the community

Three people in high vis work clothes standing in the Dorothy Parkes community allotment.The Dorothy Parkes community allotment was in much need of support when Bridge Construction Ltd stepped forward to help. 

Opened in 2000, the Dorothy Parkes Centre is a community centre based in Smethwick, open seven days a week. The centre aims to be a place of welcome and opportunity to the local and wider community.

It holds a variety of groups, classes, and activities, which all aim to help tackle issues such as physical health, mental health, obesity, social isolation, low educational attainment, poverty and unemployment.  

The centre also distributes food vouchers and hosts police, fire and council surgeries. In 2019 it won the award for Outstanding Smethwick Community Organisation at the Smethwick Community Awards.

Back in 2018 the centre secured funding from the Postcode Local Trust to create an outdoor community classroom to enable people to develop life, employability and horticulture skills, improve confidence and participate in physical activity. The centre secured an overgrown allotment plot, appointed a project coordinator, Karen Palmer, and the project began.

Phase one was to clear the site and prepare the allotment to be used in a variety of different ways. The centre was then allowed to lease the adjacent plot which doubled the size of land that it could work with.  

Phase two was to begin to implement the design for the plot and this is where Bridges Construction Ltd stepped in. The Midlands-based company donated hard core building materials and an artic load of high grade topsoil for the allotment’s raised beds. Its team re-laid paving to provide easy-access to the site and helped to spread the topsoil.

Bridges Construction is a civil engineering firm that has successfully delivered projects across many sectors and disciplines within the construction industry over many years. It is part of the Black Country Framework for Minor Works and as part of its social value commitment it was happy to support the Dorothy Parkes community allotment project. 

Bridges Construction commercial director Richard Lewis stated: “It was a privilege to be involved with Karen Palmer and her team at the Dorothy Parkes community allotment, the project is a great asset to the local community. We hope that the voluntary works completed by our employees who live in close proximity to the site will enable further groups to access the fantastic facilities that the Dorothy Parkes Centre has produced. It’s great to hear the positive impact that our social value work has had on the project and we look forward to working closely with the Dorothy Parkes Centre in the future.”

Karen Palmer said: “We give our grateful thanks to Bridge Construction Ltd for all their help and support with the development of the community allotment. They generously donated an artic load of high grade topsoil for our raised beds, hard core building materials and re-laid existing paving for the development of the ‘Easy Access’ area for folks who are less mobile but still want to take part in our allotment based activities.

“The team from Bridge Construction made several visits to the site and volunteered their time and efforts many times not least in ‘shifting’ the said artic load of topsoil! The generosity of the company and staff has helped move the allotment project forward tremendously.  We are most grateful for the partnership that has developed between Bridges and the Dorothy Parkes Centre and we hope that many groups and members of our local community can benefit from their kindness.”

If your Sandwell business would like to support a local community group or charity as part of your corporate social responsibility through volunteering or monetary or materials donations please contact our social value and community benefits coordinator Karen Richards by emailing or go to