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Jengu handwashing at school Jengu handwashing at school

Community engagement

It is 50 years since Ove Arup identified the central importance of the humanitarian aspect of our work. We continue to prioritise socially valuable outcomes in both our commercial and community-facing work.
It is 50 years since Ove Arup identified the central importance of the humanitarian aspect of our work. We continue to prioritise socially valuable outcomes in both our commercial and community-facing work.

Today, working alongside a wide range of partner organisations, we use our technical and strategic capabilities to support the most disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised people in the world. Our community engagement programme aims to produce a more sustainably developed world, focusing on food security; clean and renewable energy; water and sanitation; improved shelter; and social mobility.

Whether it is empowering organisations tackling homelessness, designing products to improve handwashing in informal settlements or employing digital tools in disaster recovery, we constantly seek to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in the communities in which we live and work and beyond.

Making an impact

Community engagement is inherently collaborative. We achieve the most impact when we define what we are trying to accomplish early on, in partnership with affected communities and local organisations. Measurement plays a key role and ensures we stay focused on the most effective interventions.

  • 200+ Projects delivered in 2020-2021
  • 40 Countries where projects delivered in 2020-2021
  • 3+ SDGs contributed towards by each project on average

Supporting displaced people

Wars, famines, and climate change effects continue to displace millions of people globally. Single events rapidly lead to cascading challenges: hunger, lack of shelter, failed infrastructure, access to clean water and education. We help those affected through our global community engagement programme, working alongside relevant local NGOs and supported by our own international development team. 

Like many, we are currently focusing our efforts on fundraising to help the millions of refugees from the war in Ukraine. We’re also supporting Rohingya communities displaced from Myanmar, as well as refugees living in camps in Greece, Lebanon and Jordan at present, many of whom are displaced by the war in Syria. Our work is also supporting refugees who have fled Afghanistan, helping them resettle elsewhere in the world.

Activating play in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town

In too many societies today, play is struggling to find a place in the lives of children.

The informal settlements created by rapid urbanisation often result in austere, hazardous built environments, leading to low-play lives and ‘play poverty’.

In South Africa, we have been working in Khayelitsha Township, an informal suburb of Cape Town, to provide its children with safe and stimulating opportunities for play in the settlement’s public space.

Working with partners, and utilising our 'Urban Play Framework', we developed an activated play network linking outdoor courtyard hubs that are designed to stimulate social, emotional and cognitive skills.

Find out more

Project facts

  • 3 Safe, supervised play spaces designed to challenge specific cognitive skills
  • 200+ Children and caregivers engaged in multiple workshops

The power of partnership

Partnerships are central to effectiveness. They ensure we give the right support, at the right time, to the people who need it most. These deep and productive relationships are a chance to share knowledge with partners and help our own people grow through experience. We are always open to new, long-term strategic relationships that can improve the impact we produce.

The global challenge

The global challenge is an Arup programme that provides seed funding for collaboration with partners and communities who can work with us on shared aims. Together we co-create ideas with impact and the potential to effect systemic change, and turn them from initial concepts into scaleable solutions that can benefit vulnerable and marginalised communities world-wide.

Find out more about the global challenge

Humanitarianism implies a social conscience, a wish to do socially useful work, and to join hands with others fighting for the same values. ”

Ove Arup Sir Ove Arup Founder

The power of partnership

Community Engagement allows us to apply our expertise in new and challenging ways. We work with partners, experts and NGOs to help build communities’ skills in vital priorities like sanitation, building resilient shelter and much more. Every collaboration is a chance to think imaginatively and improve the world around us. Find out more:

Talk to us

Last year we worked with 200 partners ranging from international NGOs and local governments to community interest companies and local community organisations. If you would like to find out more or get involved, please get in touch.

Join us and shape a better world

Wherever you are in your career, we welcome creative and curious minds. Join us and shape a better world.