A CSR programme inspired by a zero-carbon vision

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Tree planting at Mourier valley. Jasmine Wood, JEC Volunteer. PICTURE: TONY PIKE PHOTOGRAPHER (30750179)
Tree planting at Mourier valley. Jasmine Wood, JEC Volunteer. PICTURE: TONY PIKE PHOTOGRAPHER (30750179)

By Lynn Schofield, communications manager, Jersey Electricity

ACTS of corporate social responsibility can make a huge difference to the communities in which big business operates. As we saw at the height of the pandemic last year, business can be an immense force for good when it unites for a common cause.

The rapid construction of the Nightingale Hospital was made possible with several companies, including Jersey Electricity, offering their services for free, and every JE employee involved took huge pride in the work fast-tracking the infrastructure and services.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit local charities hard, causing the cancellation of many fundraising events to which we have lent our support over the years either corporately or through the participation of our people. We, nevertheless, continued our support to help them continue their valuable work.

Reassurance to local charities

To provide reassurance to some charities, we pledged our continued support and partnership for this year in the hope that their events would go-ahead, and we are delighted to see that many are.

Although our Walk Into Light in aid of Sanctuary Trust has again fallen victim to Covid restrictions, we hope that its 2021 replacement, the Sanctuary Trust 10 Personal Challenge, will inspire Islanders, along with our employees, to get out and active throughout the month of May to celebrate the charity’s tenth year supporting the homeless.

Climate change, however, threatens to be far more disruptive than anything we have witnessed with Covid – although the pandemic has shown what is possible when we work together in the face of a crisis.

Supporting carbon neutrality

Our vision is to ‘inspire a zero-carbon future’ and much of our CSR activity is focused on realising this vision and supporting the government’s carbon-neutrality ambitions.

In December 2019 we helped to launch the most significant tree-planting initiative the National Trust for Jersey has undertaken. In partnership with Jersey Water, we are funding and physically helping to reforest 20 acres of Mourier Valley in the north of Jersey by planting 6,000 trees over three years.

Working with the trust and Jersey Trees for Life, volunteers from Jersey Electricity and Jersey Water planted over 600 trees in the first year and we returned again this year to clear bracken and plant another 780 trees.

Action on carbon sequestration

We see this project as a small but symbolically important step on Jersey’s journey to zero carbon that will provide our community with the sense that we are taking action on the ground for future carbon sequestration.

More ‘action on the ground’ was evident at Hautlieu School earlier this year when we partnered the government, under the guidance of Earthwatch Europe, in funding the Island’s first carbon-absorbing Tiny Forest.

Reputed to grow ten times faster, generate 100 times more biodiversity and absorb up to 30 times more carbon than traditional planting, this Tiny Forest will serve as a valuable education tool for students on the importance of carbon sequestration. It is also the precursor to community planting projects we are supporting throughout all 12 parishes, which we will start during next season’s planting window.

Education, along with the environment, plays a big part in Jersey Electricity’s support for the community and our employee engagement activities. Therefore, we are delighted to back the National Trust’s important education programme by sponsoring its full-time education officer for three years.

Helping children to reconnect with nature

Around 3,500 children a year engage with the programme which involves a wide range of activities that employees can help with and that complement schools’ science curricula and encourage children to ‘reconnect with nature’. The focus of the programme is on biodiversity loss, recognising the causes and impacts of its loss and how to prevent this.

Under the banner ‘We Have the Power’, the programme aims to raise awareness of the causes of climate change and the small- and large-scale carbon-reduction steps needed to curb it. As well as conducting a series of school assemblies, we have helped to make the trust’s historic Le Moulin de Quétivel a learning centre for climate-change education events with an exhibition and demonstration hydroelectric generator.

Of course, education is important to us because our future depends on the next generation of skilled and dedicated people, including engineers. We are an inclusive employer and want young Islanders to understand what rewarding careers we have to offer.

Supporting the next generation of engineers

As the industry partner of the Primary Engineer programme and ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ competition, our engineers helped children with their competition designs and visited participating schools to mentor entrants. Run jointly by Skills Jersey and the UK’s Primary Engineer organisation, the aim is to engage pupils in the creativity and careers related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Though, in common with many initiatives, it was curtailed by Covid, we are again engaging with participating schools and offering the assistance of our engineers.

Despite being restricted in the number and type of charity events in which our people were able to participate last year, their monthly staff charity continued to raise funds for employee-nominated charities through donations paid directly from salaries. Nominated charities that benefited were McMillan Cancer Support (Jersey) Ltd, Channel Islands Air Search, The Mission to Seafarers (Jersey Branch), Healing Waves, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Diabetes Jersey, Age Concern, Jersey Cancer Relief, Neil Hussey Heart Charity, Brooke Hospital for Animals, Autism Jersey and Friends of Special Care Baby Unit.

We hope Jersey charities return to their normal level of fundraising activities soon and that the people of Jersey Electricity can continue their support both corporately and individually.

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