29 MAY 2024

Blog: Knowing you are making an impact, Merlene Austin

Merlene Austin, Community Engagement Manager, Grosvenor Property UK

Greener Futures is one of many investments Grosvenor Property UK makes in local communities every year. It aims to improve lives by helping communities take climate action, creating access to training and jobs in the green economy and connecting children with nature. 

The programme supports health, wellbeing, employability and more. We’re delivering it as part of our People and Planet Positive approach, which is all about creating places that are better for people and the planet. That purpose is part of what makes Grosvenor a place where people like Kate can express everything they are, in everything they do, every day.

Meet Merlene, Community Engagement Manager.

When I think how many people are enjoying the spaces we’ve helped transform, the impact really comes home to me.

When I first started this role around 12 years ago as a Project Assistant, it was all about community outreach. Meeting residents, to find out what wasn’t working for them, what they thought we could improve and supporting local charities and events.

As a ‘people person’, I enjoy the one-to-one of making those human connections and building on them. I still do a lot of outreach in my current role as Community Engagement Manager. But my role has expanded and I can now make an even bigger impact. Grosvenor is the kind of place that gives you room to grow, and if you’re open to opportunities, you can go far. 

Grosvenor’s commitment to putting people and planet at the heart of our business means my work now brings me into contact with more people and organisations, all working with a purpose.

The things I hear and learn, when I engage and connect with the different communities we work with, has the potential to feed into goals and strategies that everyone at Grosvenor is working towards. It’s huge. As a business we want to make places better for planet and people, and we can make a bigger impact because we're working hand in hand with the communities around us. I think that's exciting. 

Our Greener Futures programme is one area where I’ve already seen the impact.

Through Greener Futures, we’ve so far invested £1 million into climate action projects that are community-led and directly benefit people. We’re partnering with organisations and charities whose goals align with our aims of improving lives alongside improving the environment.

Groundwork is one of the charity partners we work with through the programme. Their focus on helping people find jobs in the green economy provided an ideal opportunity for me to organise some coordinated volunteering for our staff. 

Last year I was lucky enough to lead our ‘Big Help Out’ volunteering day – the first time the whole of our London office had come together to volunteer and make a difference. The turnout was amazing. In just one day, we improved spaces on Lisson Green Estate, in one of the most deprived areas of Westminster. We planted over 400 perennials, painted railings and fences and built benches… and altogether we donated an amazing 3,390 hours of volunteering time.

Colleagues got a buzz from seeing the spaces we’d transformed 

I know people also really enjoyed the chance to meet and work alongside colleagues they don’t normally cross paths with. And it’s great to hear the same is happening on the estate. This is the human element I like about my job. Human connections are my thing. 

"Grosvenor is an organisation that encourages you to be open to possibilities and change, whilst being your authentic self."

Group 2