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Through the community programme, the Group aims to be a catalyst for positive change in society. Working with and supporting our local communities through partnerships with agencies and charities, activity is delivered in line with our programme themes of education, environment, wellbeing and community.
Protecting the environment is more important than ever as movement is made towards a carbon neutral world and more sustainable future. The Group supports the Cheshire Wildlife Trust by providing a base for them at the Company owned Holly Bank House and Gowy Meadows woodland area. This spring, work with them provided a range of activities for over 130 children and teachers to learn about protecting and working with the natural environment. Each activity was linked to either the Science or PSHCE curriculum for the relevant year group and follow-on visits took place with schools to embed the learning, The Trust also delivered Family Woodland Experience Sessions for our colleagues and a number of families took part in this woodland activity. The Cheshire Wildlife Trust continue to support the Gowy Meadows and working together, this provides a popular local recreation site and a place where visitors can learn more about the natural environment.
The Group’s educational programme provides support to children from a range of backgrounds and stages in their academic life. Focused on inspiring a passion for STEM-based subjects, initiatives highlight opportunities and showcase the science involved in future job roles available to them as they grow older. Engagement activities have been limited because of the pandemic and a new programme is being developed in partnership with Passion for Learning for 2022-23. The Group continues to support the Fred Venables Higher Education Trust which supports students most in need with grants in the critical period as they transition from school and home to further and higher education. This focused support is especially for students from challenging backgrounds. Grants average £700 and in February, seven students received grants from the Trust. Students benefitting from this funding come predominantly from Whitby High School, Neston High School, Ellesmere Port Catholic High School and Ellesmere Port Church of England College.
Wellbeing is key priority across all parts of society and the Group understands the important role that sport can play as everyone recovers from the pandemic. The Group has an occupational health centre for the wellbeing of colleagues and the experienced Occupational Health Team proactively manages programmes designed to support the health and wellbeing of colleagues. This includes monthly wellbeing advice information, one to one support and direct interventions to respond to emerging themes or issues. The Group also supports the Chester Half Marathon and it was great to see around 4,000 runners, including around 50 Essar colleagues, participating in this year’s 40th Anniversary event. The event also includes a Family Fun Run which encourages children to engage with support. The half marathon follows the Essar supported Four Villages Half Marathon which sees 1,500 runners each year pass close by our site as they complete their 13-mile course.
Working collaboratively with our local community is a priority for the Group as it recognises the significant contribution and impact that our operations can have on them. Bi-annual Community Liaison Panel meetings are held and this provides the opportunity to hear from the parish councils of fenceline communities, local councillors, the local authority, the regional teams from our regulators and our Member of Parliament. The event provides invaluable insight to the Group about the local communities’ concerns and helps opportunities to be developed in a collaborative way. Representatives of the Group support the Ellesmere Port Development Board which brings business, the local authority, public sector representatives and charities together to support the development of Ellesmere Port. The Chair of Board, Chris Farrow, recently retired and the Group would like to take this opportunity to formally thank him for his invaluable contribution to the Board. The Group also continues to provide support to Entep Properties. Established to provide a space for start-up businesses in our local community, the Company now hosts a range of small successful businesses and is considering development plans for the coming years. Proud shirt sponsors of Tranmere Rovers Football Club, this partnership also reaches into the local community where the Group regularly collaborates with the club’s registered charity ‘Tranmere Rovers in the Community’ to deliver its community outreach programme and initiatives.