From Cancer Care to Stillbirth Support and Beyond – Veolia’s Teams are Connecting with their Communities across Ireland

Overview of the Programme

The nature of Veolia’s business means that our 700-strong team on the island of Ireland are usually permanently based directly on our customers’ sites in order to provide them with the essential water, energy and waste treatment services in which we specialise. As such, a key aspect of our community partnership approach is to facilitate our team members to have a direct impact in the communities in which they work and reside; targeting their time, attention and skills to areas in which they can have maximum impact.

For this reason, in 2010 Veolia in Ireland established the Veolia Connect community sponsorship programme, forging links with the community through providing funding for specific community development projects where staff are personally involved. Examples of funding include: environmental improvement projects, urban/rural regeneration projects, community initiatives, special needs education or specific projects for sporting organisations. A cross-functional committee meet regularly to review applications.

Grant decisions are guided by a Charter, which along with the application form and scoring methodology are reviewed annually. These documents are tweaked accordingly based on the committee’s experience of the previous year. The committee sits for a two to three year term. At the end of the term requests are issued for volunteers; where there are more than two volunteers for a region, an election is held.
Over the course of the 10 years, a total of 290 applications have been received, with 110 of those supported with funding totalling €135,000. In 2019 alone, 15 out of 51 applications received funding totalling €15,000.

Implementing Best Practice

Veolia employees are engaged with charities in several ways. The following example highlights how one employee in particular, Jason Hurney of our Technical team, contributed his professional skills in consultation with community partner, Féileacáin – Stillbirth and neonatal death association, to provide comfort to families during a very difficult time.

Working together with a team of bereavement nurses from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Jason used Veolia Connect funding to develop a prototype for a new product which would enable parents and families of recently deceased babies to spend more time with those babies before finally saying their goodbyes.

In March 2020 this prototype was ready to enter into full test mode in the Hospital, further to a planned address by Jason at the Bereavement Nurses conference. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus outbreak, this conference was postponed.In the words of Fiona Mulligan, Clinical Midwife Specialist in Bereavement and Loss, “Jason has been very understanding and patient. We as a group provided feedback on what we have in use at present and ideas/opinions on what could improve the service and we met very often over the months. It’s been great to have been part of such a project”.

The Impact of the Programme

Over the course of 10 years, 110 community organisations throughout Ireland have been supported with funding totaling €135,000 for specific employee-sponsored projects through the Veolia Connect programme. In 2019 alone, 15 community projects received funding totaling €15,000.

The impacts of a programme like this are best described through examples.
Veolia employee, Anne McArdle, who has personally benefitted from the support of ARC Cancer Care, wished to help the group open their third support centre, to be located in Herbert Avenue in Dublin. She made a successful application to Veolia Connect in 2019 to secure an initial amount of funding for the project, but then went one step further by involving her Blanchardstown colleagues in a weekly Breakfast Club fundraising and competition that resulted in over €3,100 in Veolia Connect funding and employee donations granted to ARC in 2019.
The impact for ARC in the words of Mairead, Ellen, Tracy, Deirdre and Ann of ARC was as follows: “The funds raised have made a significant contribution towards the newly opened third centre in Herbert Ave. ARC provides psychological, emotional, educational and practical support, complementary therapies and counselling services, free of charge to people with cancer and their loved ones, friends and carers. Last year, more than 2,300 people came through the doors of ARC’s centres, a number that has increased by 27 per cent since 2014. The opening of the new centre is one of a number of initiatives being undertaken by ARC to meet growing demand with increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with cancer, but this could not have been achieved without kind support. The new Drop-In Centre is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 4pm, and will also offer a range of services by appointment including counselling, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology. Our centre in Herbert Avenue, not only will we be more accessible to people in Dublin 4 and surrounding areas, but we will be able to support more clients too.” Within Veolia, Anne’s Breakfast Club has had a really positive impact on office culture as well, offering structure and a sense of community support to the office team.

Jason’s prototype provides Healthcare professionals with a better support for grieving families at a difficult time. Fiona Mulligan, of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, put it like this: “Jason’s prototype is easier to use and more cost effective. Families will get extra time with their babies which means a lot in the grieving process. It’s important for families going through this process for things to be as normal as they can be. This will have a massive impact on bereavement services in Ireland and he’s put a lot of work into it. Jason’s idea is great and a great advantage to any unfortunate family who finds themselves in this position.”

Veolia’s Impact in 2019

Veolia provided €19,025 in cash donations; €8,221 was contributed through in-kind donations and €12,274 was raised through employee fundraising. Employees also volunteered 467 hours to local groups and projects during the year.

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