Haven Power won the 2018 Community Initiative of the Year Award. Utility Week takes a look at what it achieved. 

  • Category title: Community Initiative of the Year
  • Award winner: Haven Power Limited
  • Employees: 450
  • Customers: over 50,000 customer sites
  • Entry criteria:
  1. Quality of entry (clear, evidence-based)
  2. Genuine business commitment to initiative – does it go above and beyond? (For example: staff time, financial contributions, support at all levels of the business)
  3. Clear goals set for initiative that were met or exceeded
  4. Impact of initiative on community
  5. Business’s ongoing commitment to the community

On the back of a moving talk by the charity’s founders in 2017, Haven’s employees voted to support Eden-Rose Coppice trust, a small local charity that aims to benefit the environment, people with a terminal illness, and disadvantaged individuals in the Ipswich area. This took them to the Brickmakers’ Wood site where more than 180 members of staff volunteered hours of their time to clear overgrown areas, build steps, dig ponds, and plant wild flowers.

Haven says that it believes the fact that the volunteer work involves physical labour gives employees a sense of ownership and achievement from finishing tasks. In 2018 the company voted to continue working with Eden-Rose, even putting plans in place to increase the number of hours volunteered. Many employees have bought into the partnership and the benefits the park brings, with engagement numbers rising since the company began its relationship with the charity.

The Brickmakers’ Wood project aims to transform neglected woodland into a biodiverse and welcoming space. It already benefits disadvantaged people, and will soon be used by those with terminal illnesses. Building on this, the charity hopes to install cameras to transmit and record wildlife activity for educational use.

The management plan for Brickmakers’ Wood aspires to create and manage habitats for a variety of wildlife. To aid this, the leaders – along with students and staff from nearby University of Suffolk – will collect statistical data to map improvements in biodiversity.

The charity aims to emulate the success of another of its projects in Sudbury, Suffolk, which has had a positive impact on 190 people living with cancer, and created opportunities for people in long-term unemployment and those with special needs.

Eden-Rose aims to help young people develop practical business skills and improve their employment prospects. For example, they have been delivering workshops that teach wood carving skills to children from 12 to 16-years-old, who have been excluded from school. The idea is to help the children gain commercial understanding by letting them decide what to create, and then how much they should charge for their products in a temporary outlet organised by the charity.

With the help of the volunteers, the charity has managed to reach targets ahead of schedule, with founder Rob Brook says: “It would’ve taken us five years to get where we have in 18 months; [Haven Power] accelerated the whole project.”

From 1 January 2017 to 5 September 2018, employees from Haven Power volunteered for 1,492 hours. Without this help, much of this physical labour would have had to be performed by the founders themselves, while they still had a charity to run. Many Haven employees gave up more of their own time to help repair damage to their work caused by vandals.

Most of these hours were spent working at the wood, with some delivering careers talks at local schools or lessons on using electricity more efficiently at the Stone Foundation, a charity that provides housing and tenancy support for vulnerable people.

The charity’s environmental stance complement’s Haven’s own – both are committed to encouraging change in energy use and supporting sustainability. This is especially the case with Eden-Rose’s 2018 sustainability drive, which focused on the installation of solar panels.

Haven Power credit management adviser, David Daniels, says: “I believe that people will find volunteering to help others in our local community a very rewarding and humbling experience. Also, they’ll get a sense of satisfaction seeing the results of their efforts.”

In 2017, Haven Power found that 90 per cent of employees thought the company was socially responsible, an increase of 32 per cent from the year before.

Charity co-leader Jo Brooks said: “Haven Power’s support is making a huge difference [that] goes way beyond fundraising. We’ve never seen this much commitment from a company – the continual volunteering has transformed the project.”

Eden-Rose has re-shaped its corporate volunteering programme since the company became involved, citing Haven Power as the benchmark for regular participation, positive publicity and fundraising.

In 2017, Haven Power raised £9,700 for the trust, breezing past its original target of £8,500. Also, it donated £5,000 towards the cost of security and surveillance equipment after a series of vandalism incidents.

With the support Haven Power has provided to Eden-Rose, Brooks says they are “benefit stacking” by supporting more than one cause.

“It’s not just about changing the lives of those with cancer, disadvantaged children and the vulnerable. It’s also about the wildlife benefits, the trees taking in CO2 – the whole environmental impact.”

The company estimates that the total hours volunteered at the average daily rate of the participants (£84) equals £9,492 to date. Haven Power’s target for average monthly total of volunteer hours is 75.

Haven Power’s volunteering work – at schools and the university and the Stone Foundation – has indirectly benefited 1,477 adults and children in the Ipswich area.

Since 2016, it has volunteered 1,372 hours in the community, and raised £31,052.79 for various local and national charities.

Winner’s comment 

Paul Sheffield, chief operation officer, Haven Power 

“We were so excited to win Utility Week’s Community Initiative of the Year award 2018 with local charity Eden-Rose Coppice Trust.

“Its Brickmakers’ Wood project is very close to our heart, and we love working with the co-founders, Rob Brooks and his daughter Jo. As a large local employer, it’s important to get involved in the community.

“Our volunteering and fundraising work for the trust gives our people a purpose away from their daily roles at work and elsewhere.”

What the judges said

The project impressed judges with its “all-round passion and holistic approach”.

Other shortlisted companies in this category were:

  • SSEN for its Resilient Communities Fund
  • National Grid for its London Power Tunnels Project
  • Wave for Don’t Waste a Drop
  • Severn Trent Water for Community Champions (Severn Trent & Hafren Dyfrdwy)
  • United Utilities for its Youth Employment Programme
  • SP Energy Networks for Safety Central
  • Northumbrian Water Group for its South Tyne Sculpture Trail

The Utility Week Awards are held in association with CGI, Capgemini and Microsoft

The 2019 Utility Week Awards will be opening soon. Sponsorship opportunities are available – contact Utility Week business development manager Ben Hammond on benhammond@fav-house.com or 01342 332116 for more information.

What to read next