How UK Power Networks are opening the door for the young unemployed in London
For Community Energy Fortnight 2021, Phoebe Adams, Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Lead at UK Power Networks shows how the company has joined forces with Energy Garden to boost opportunities for young Londoners and leave a legacy that lasts.
As the electricity distribution network for London, South East and East of England, at UK Power Networks we look to support our customers and local community with more than just keeping the lights on.
Each year we support our local communities by educating people about efficient energy tariffs, helping to register customers to our Priority Services Register, supporting the energy transition to a green, decarbonised future, whilst giving back to the community by supporting local charities (in 2020 we raised money for St. Vincent’s Family Project – a Westminster based family charity, and Great Ormond Street Hospital, as well as local food banks, to name a few).
Last year through working with Community Energy South, we identified there was a considerable need in the London community for skills development for the unemployed, particularly since the pandemic began. Through Community Energy South we were able to join forces with Energy Garden, a charity organisation that empowers communities to regenerate London from seed to solar power, to find a way to leave a lasting legacy in the community and provide young people with skills and opportunities they need.
Energy Garden’s community-run programme sets out to help 16-19 year olds who have been out of work for a long time and move to give them a more positive future. It also aims to help lift youngsters and their families out of fuel poverty through education. At UK Power Networks we have been working with our stakeholders to identify customers who may be in fuel poverty – ie struggling to pay their energy bills - so that we can provide the best levels of care and support, with this scheme giving us another avenue to access these types of customers.
The charity’s youth training programme covers sustainable energy, social enterprise, community development, and practical learning in the urban environment. There are currently 11 participants enrolled to the programme, who will benefit from 40 hours’ insight and experience into the world of low carbon and green economy through solar panel making, visits to technology sites, discussions with industry figures, community engagement and surveying.
We want to do more than give something back to our communities, we want to leave a legacy that lasts. As part of this programme, we were able to give the group a behind-the-scenes insight into energy issues including the UK’s transition to net zero and a visit to Leicester Square where we are installing £16.2 million worth of state-of-the-art underground equipment, to ensure safe and reliable power supplies for years to come.
They are also supported with CV writing and how to use social media platforms to showcase their professional skills. Upon completion, trainees are awarded Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) certificates and receive careers advice to boost their employability prospects and confidence, with some either signing up for more study or gaining employment.
We are looking forward to continuing our work with Energy Garden on other schemes and the insight and expertise they have given us, are enabling us to better connect with our community and have a positive impact on the young people involved in the training scheme.