By using the skills of our people, our resources and partnerships, we can have a positive impact on our communities and their success.
Over the years we have developed an extensive community programme which includes:
This tool allows organisations to assess their responsible business performance within communities and their environment. This year we were one of 94 companies across all 24 different sectors taking part. We are delighted to report that we scored 81% overall; meaning that we are leading our energy and utilities benchmark group.
Our ‘Just an Hour’ employee volunteering scheme is a cornerstone of how we support our communities. In 2019 42% of our people volunteered their time supporting 9901 organisations across our communities.
We have four community foundations funds across our two supply areas; Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Tees Valley and Essex. In 2019 we donated £18,486.54 supporting 15 organisations.
Our Branch Out fund helps deliver projects that benefit the natural environment and their local communities. In 2019/20 we supported 21 Branch Out projects providing £60,060 in funding.
The success of our award-winning Water Rangers initiative, is down to our customer volunteers who act as our ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground in the community, and raise awareness of any issues spotted on their patrols along our waterways. Our volunteer Water Rangers over the last six years have carried out 8,473 patrols with 530 issues reported and 34 referred to the Environment Agency.
Our Powered by Water campaign teaches young people the importance of staying well hydrated and avoiding sugary drinks in an engaging and fun way through our sporting partnerships. In 2019 over 27,500 young people took part.
Our ambitious goal is to be the most socially responsible water company. To do this we will measure our activity as a responsible business across all areas of our operations: our people, customers, suppliers, finances, partnerships, communities and environment, and will achieve a leading position in recognised benchmarks.
Our community work supports this, and has five main strands:
It provides grants of up to £25,000 to projects reflecting these objectives and helps some brilliant activities get under way.
Since 2013 Our Branch Out fund has supported 126 projects and invested over £470,000 which has been used to lever in 12 times that amount in funding into our regions. This has resulted in us being part of, and helping to enable, an amazing £5.6million investment in wildlife and people across our communities.
In 2019/20 we supported 21 Branch Out projects, providing £60,000 in funding.
NWG’s Conservation and Land Manager Miranda Cooper said: “We are immensely proud of our programme. Building resilience is essential for supporting a healthy natural environment and for us to supply clear, great tasting drinking water.
“It’s fantastic we can support local groups, organisations and charities in helping to make a difference to the communities we serve.”
The project will create a 1,000 acre wetland nature reserve on the edge of Lowestoft and a new Suffolk Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre. The project is a great opportunity to connect people with nature, create further broadland habitat, reconnecting and giving resilience to the landscape of a European designated habitat, and flood protection to Oulton Broad.
Vast new reed beds and grazing marsh will boost populations of the UK’s rarest wetland species, and Suffolk Wildlife Trust expect Carlton Marshes to be recognised as a National Nature Reserve within five years.
Christine Luxton, Head of Engagement at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “Branch Out funding is helping to realise our big ambition for Carlton Marshes. It will be an oasis for local people and will boost nature tourism in the town.”
They aim to plant over 4,500 native trees in two areas along the River Wear totalling 1.8 hectares. This will provide valuable shade to the river, stabilise eroding banks and to act as a buffer between the river and arable land, while also providing valuable wildlife habitat.