Employees taking part in Time to Give volunteering opportunity.
Investing in communities.
In 2014, we started a new five year community investment programme worth £6.5m*. Last year we provided funding to 14 new and exciting projects and two feasibility studies with a total value of more than £840,000, all of which will be delivered by our community partners.
We completed an exciting new wetland at Prince of Wales Park in Enfield during 2017/18 which transformed open grassland with no real amenity value into a working wetland that will engage the local community. The local primary school have been engaged with the project all the way through and have been responsible for most of the tree planting on the site.
There was further recognition for our work at Firs Farm, a wetland nature reserve in Enfield, which won the ‘Natural Environment’ category for the Canal & River Trust’s 2017 Living Waterways Awards. More money has now been pledged to Firs Farm for the development of a new community hub on the site.
Click on the case study below to read more about our 2017/18 community projects:
"The highly integrated nature of this scheme, involving very active partners and close co-operation between different professional disciplines, is truly inspiring. The revealing of a hidden watercourse is not unique, but pursuing this aim to fulfil so many different goals is highly noteworthy, and project has already demonstrated its value as a catalyst for future work."
Time to Give.
Our people are empowered and encouraged to volunteer their time for some great causes in the community. During 2017/18, we again demonstrated community spirit and willingness to get involved through our ‘Time to Give’ programme. We had 1040 volunteering activities, collectively investing 6,393 hours across our region.
Over 3000 hours of labour by 382 of our people took part in conservation activities working with groups such as Berkshire Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, London Wildlife Trust and Thames21, contributing to activities which help to improve the environment. We have worked on a number of Rivers and Wetlands Community Days where we were involved in habitat management. This included the reconnection of two colonies of water voles by improving bank side habitat with Chiltern Rangers. We have also carried out River Restoration projects, for example, managing grasses and riverside plants to help bees and butterflies, such as the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly, recolonise the river bank.
We have 24 dedicated science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) ambassadors in the business, supporting our education outreach programme, six school governors and three employees who act as trustees in other charities. In addition, we had 172 business volunteers who supported the Network Challenge events in schools and colleges like the Reading and Newham University Technical Colleges.
At least 50 employees every year volunteer at Camp Mohawk to create better outdoor learning facilities. Camp Mohawk is a multi-functional day centre for children with special needs and their families. Throughout the year, the centre provides a range of activities, facilities and natural space to encourage children with a variety of special needs to play, socialise and learn in a secure and caring environment. We have helped and supported 1000 children with special needs last year.
"It can feel very isolating to be cut off from the majority of activities in our community... Mohawk is our most treasured resource and enjoyed by the whole family... The corporate community day volunteers who help to maintain and improve the facilities on the site do a hugely important task... It makes us feel we are a valued part of society to know that others are working towards achieving improvements to facilities designated specifically for children like our son..."
We’re always looking to improve the programme of volunteering we offer to our employees, and we regularly ask for feedback after these activities. All our people have told us they would volunteer again, and would recommend volunteering to their colleagues, with 78 per cent saying it improved their work-related skills like communication, delegation and leadership. We also link our employee engagement surveys with our volunteering programme to assess how our volunteering programme helps to keep our people engaged as a business.
Read more about our clean-ups in East London by clicking on the case study below:
During 2017/18 we will focus on:
- Walthamstow Wetlands – the Wetlands welcomed over 250,000 visitors in the first six months since opening in October 2017. As the site settles this year, we will be adapting and modifying to keep the Wetlands special and safe, including having to reinforce important site rules through engagement with visitors and signage. The London Wildlife Trust is encouraging volunteering and active participation by local communities in the management and conservation of the site, and all educational booked visits are fully booked.
- Wild About Thames – our flagship biodiversity engagement programme is being relaunched to increase its profile as a result of the interest in wildlife and the natural world from both our customers and employees. The programme is a series of events for employees so they understand the rich abundance of nature on our sites through handbooks and identification guides, practical management of invasive species and community events such as public open days. We will continue to work with our leaseholders who manage sites on our behalf for nature.
- Education Centres – two new education centres at Longreach and Deephams sewage treatment works will be opening. Site visits by school children and community groups remain popular and the addition of these two sites will help our education programme become more accessible to schools across our area.
- Abbey Mills – in May 2018 we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the building of the iconic Bazalgette pumping station. We will be repainting the interior of the building in its original colours and continue to investigate how to increase access to the site.
- Farmoor visitor centre – we will be carrying out a feasibility study with current and potential future users of the Farmoor Reservoir site to investigate the need for a new visitor centre, which would provide visitors with a café, toilets, exhibition and education space.
*This fund was established by the company in 2014 in lieu of a fine for accidental misreporting of sewer flooding data to our regulator Ofwat.