Volunteering variety adds value
To mark International Volunteer Day, we’re talking about Haven Power’s community engagement programme.
While we have a history of charitable giving and fundraising, we started volunteering in the community in 2016 and it became even more of a focus in 2017-18. In this most recent period, 55% of colleagues have volunteered through the company’s scheme that supports time away from work for community activities. This compares well to the national average of 22%*.
In addition, as engagement continues to rise, we’ve already volunteered 898 hours this year against a target of 900. We’ve devoted the majority of this time to our Charity of the Year by sending groups of volunteers to its Brickmakers’ Wood site each month. Close to our head office in Ipswich, the project aims to transform this previously neglected woodland into a beautiful natural space for disadvantaged people and those with life-threatening illnesses.
Working at the Wood
During 2018, we built a small watering hole for wildlife in one area and, in another part of the wood, a larger pond. Next to the bigger pool, we planted a wildflower meadow to increase the site’s biodiversity.
Last year, vandals attacked Brickmakers’ Wood on several occasions and destroyed much of the work completed by the charity’s founders and our volunteers. To prevent this happening again, we made a one-off donation of £5000 towards the cost of security fencing around the site. This was separate from our year-long fundraising for the charity.
This year, we helped install the perimeter fence and also built wooden fences across the site to mark out its distinct areas. We also restructured the site’s workshop to make it safer and more accessible for the young people who come to the charity’s training sessions. The aim is that teaching them how to make - and sell - items from materials found on site will provide the skills they need to gain employment.
Recognising our work with the charity, energy industry publication Utility Week has added our name to its award shortlist for 2018. We’re one of eight companies vying for the judges’ vote in its prestigious “Community Initiative of the Year” category.
Supporting schools and vulnerable people
Haven Power is also committed to helping local primary and secondary schools. For example, our volunteers have explained how we use maths each day as part of the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme. Additionally, we’ve taken part in careers fairs and talked about the energy industry at schools - including a session where we took our electric vehicle to demonstrate emerging trends.
We’ve also supported the Stone Foundation, which provides housing and tenancy support for vulnerable people. Colleagues have given lessons on how to use electricity more efficiently and on managing bills.
Volunteering: next steps
Our volunteering activities bring multiple benefits to the causes we support, and our colleagues. The company’s seen an increase in staff engagement, with an internal survey showing that 90% of employees now believe we’re socially responsible.
Volunteering with organisations that share our values is also a way to support our purpose: to inspire change in energy use and make sustainability second nature. Brickmakers’ Wood adopts a sustainable approach and this was a factor in it becoming our Charity of the Year for the past two years. And with another volunteering session at the site in December 2018, plus a fundraising Christmas concert featuring 30 colleagues, our work with the charity continues.
Next year, we’ll also continue our STEM activities and extend our volunteering work in schools by adding employability guidance and skills training to the mix.
*The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Community Life Survey, England 2017 to 2018 found that 22% of adults formally volunteered at least once a month.