- About Us – CH-Y : Construction & Housing Yorkshire

How we achieve our goals


We influence planning and procurement policies to include informed and appropriate employment & skills and supply chain obligations through Social KPIs.

We raise awareness of social value and influence the construction industry and its stakeholders to adopt a culture of responsible businesses.


We provide a link between local construction developments and the communities they work in. Working with partners from the local Public and Third Sector  to deliver, monitor and measure Social KPIs  and the outcomes they produce.


We provide expert advice and guidance on Social Value to public sector bodies, businesses, organisations and groups working in and around the construction industry to assist them to create new opportunities for their business and develop new skills within their existing and future workforce.

CHY was founded as a concept named Construction Leeds in 2004 to act as an impartial co-ordinating body for the construction industry in Leeds.

With construction activity in the city at that time predicted at over £7 billion it was foreseen that a coordinated approach had to be taken to maximise the benefits of the public and private developments within the city.


Leeds City Council, Jobcentre Plus and a local regeneration charity Renew began discussing the partnership and began inviting other key partners to join including CITB, Federation of Master Builders, Leeds College of Building and the Local Strategic Partnership – The Leeds Initiative. 

Once the key aims and objectives of the organisation were agreed, grant funding was secured from European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, Learning Skills Council, Yorkshire Forward and Leeds City Council.  With the Leeds Initiative’s support and Renew acting as the accountable body CHY was formally launched by the Right Honourable Hilary Benn MP in January 2007 on a live, very cold construction site at Bridgewater Place, Leeds.

Rob Wolfe, CHY’s current Managing Director, was recruited in June 2006 to set up CHY with the simple objective to “make sure that major construction projects in Leeds benefit our communities by creating jobs, delivering training and generating business opportunities”.  

This objective and our collaborative approach remains at the heart of CHY today but we have come a long way in the last ten years diversifying our income from both public and private sources to become a true social enterprise; increasing our influence, developing and demonstrating our niche expertise and delivering some nationally recognised programmes.

Our objective has remained the same but our ambitions have grown. We want to see a unified approach across the construction industry for clients, contractors and the communities they work in which will drive more social value and ensure that the prosperity that comes with the physical regeneration of a city is inclusive of all those that live there.

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A Winning

CHY went on to win 8 regional and national Constructing Excellence Awards for its collaborative approach to developing and delivering Social Value in the built environment.

As social value becomes ever more important to clients across the UK and an integral part of responsible business we continue to grow our network of public, private and third sector partners both in and outside Yorkshire, we continue to influence planning and procurement processes to include, monitor and measure Social Value and we continue to create more jobs, more apprenticeships, deliver more skills and create more opportunities for local SME businesses.

The CHY Team

Catherine Crosswaite

When Catherine is not looking after her son Bobby, she is here monitoring employment, skills and business opportunities on construction sites across the region. Catherine manages our membership and consultancy services looking at how we can work together with key partners, developers, contractors and SME’s to provide local opportunities for local people and businesses. Catherine has managed key projects such as the Leeds Arena where she became part of BAM’s team delivering employment and skills activity directly on site; work that contributed to her winning Constructing Excellence’s Young Achiever of the Year award.  Catherine’s background in housing and regeneration with an MA in Town and Regional Planning combined with her gregarious personality makes us the perfect organisation for her to promote sustainable development which benefits the local communities around it.

Dom Gordon

For many years Dominic’s passion has been to raise funds and awareness for causes that desperately need it and, for the most part, he has tied this in with his love for adventure. When Dominic’s not throwing himself off buildings, running triathlons or climbing in Nepal for charity he is flying round Yorkshire engaging with developers, contractors, local authorities and training providers to connect the opportunities created on major construction sites to their local communities and SMEs.  With a very successful public and private sector background in services, business improvement, marketing and PR Dominic brings an innovative, fast paced and flexible approach to our services.  Dominic’s driving ambition in life is to make a positive impact and help those around him, whether it is a single person or a community. In Dominic’s first year at CHY he won a community award from Land Securities owned White Rose Shopping Centre for the consultancy work he carried out on their shopping centre expansion. The award recognises “outstanding work to the benefit of the community” and pays particular attention to the creation of social value on the project.

Ella Thomas

Since graduating from Leeds University, Ella’s goal has been to work within the third sector to help those most in need take ownership of their lives through meaningful programs. Ella connects the dots between leading experts in the third sector, the private sector and the public sector driving social value in the construction industry. Ella work centres around matching opportunities on construction sites to those most in need whilst supporting the construction industry to embed social value into their culture. Ella takes her passion of working in her local community into her personal life particularly when she lived and worked in rural India to help a small community construct a sustainable village hall bettering education and sanitation. Ella’s ambition is to ensure local people who are furthest from the labour market secure opportunities on sites throughout the region.

Lewis Vaughan

Lewis has been a member of our team since 2015 bringing core skills from his previous roles working with the infrastructure and government team at PwC. Lewis has a broad experience of commercial, financial and social value on infrastructure projects. His goal is to effect social and economic improvement by supporting private and public sector clients who are planning and delivering construction and infrastructure projects. He has lived in West Yorkshire since 2007 and enjoys getting to know the area better by exploring the urban areas through his work and visiting the countryside for rock climbing outings.

Rob Wolfe

Rob set up CHY in 2006 and continues to have overall responsibility for the operational management and strategic direction of CHY.   Rob juggles CHY with bed time stories, cooking and reminiscing about younger years spent as a drummer in a Punk Rock band.  Rob has worked in physical and social regeneration for 17 years; working in prisons, charities and for local government in client facing, developmental and strategic roles. Partnership working, leadership and social value are at the heart of his experience and expertise: ensuring projects and people achieve the combined objectives of the private, public and third sectors, while benefiting the communities they serve.  Rob’s influence within the industry and its stakeholders was reflected when he won the National Achiever of the Year at the Constructing Excellence Awards.  Rob’s passionate goal has always been not to be needed.

Social Value
Rob wrote an article for Constructing Excellence in January 2016 outline his opinions on Social Value in the construction industry.  

The full article can be found here but the highlights below outlines the key points that illustrate our approach, our beliefs and our ideas at CHY.

Social Value is about creating employment, supporting the development of training and skills and buying goods and services from local providers.

Firstly, CSR is dead.  Responsible businesses generate both economic and social value.

Secondly, we deliver what used to be termed as the “fluffy stuff”.  Thankfully this is a term we hear less of these days.

The 2012 Social Value Act terms Social Value as improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area.  It can be the answer to the question: “What contribution to society do projects, investments and businesses make”?  But this covers a whole gamut of potential programmes from philanthropy to local purchasing that becomes unclear, unmanageable and immeasurable.

For CHY Social Value is about creating employment, supporting the development of training and skills and buying goods and services from local construction contractors, material manufacturers and service providers.

A job, a qualification, an income, a contract; this is what changes a life and has the potential to change the communities in which we live and work.

If we do not act more responsibly as an industry by investing in our current staff, recruiting the workforce of the future and working with our supply chains, costs will rise as skills shortages sharpen and wages increase.  Social Value should not be deemed an additional cost to the industry; it’s how businesses, in any sector, can and should operate.

But it’s more than just the numbers we train, recruit or contract; it’s about the long-term benefits and outcomes for the industry and the communities in which we work.  If we create an apprenticeship it’s not just “1” on a KPI spreadsheet, it’s a person creating their future in the industry, it’s addressing the skills shortage within the industry, it’s supporting a future family, it’s a potential new business, it’s taxable income.

Don Ward from Construction Excellence discusses balancing capital expenditure, operational expenditure and other business expenditure to look at the total cost of a building.  I would include social expenditure and value within this balance, enabling us to plan, procure, deliver and measure both the economic and social value of a development; allowing shareholders and the public sector to invest in developments that have greater social return and therefore long-term savings for the industry, local and national government.

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