When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, our member Gas Networks Ireland was quick to demonstrate the kind of societal support and leadership that led to its recent Chambers Ireland InBusiness award for corporate responsibility, providing much-needed assistance to vulnerable communities through its partnerships with DEIS schools and Age Action.
Education is a core part of Gas Networks Ireland’s social sustainability strategy. The company has a long history of supporting a wide range of educational initiatives and maintains strong links with a number of schools local to its offices in Cork and Dublin. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Gas Networks Ireland provided much-needed technology and food supplies to their partner schools.
“We donated eight new laptops to schools in Cork and Dublin to help student’s access essential technology and continue to learn online while at home,” said Gas Networks Ireland Corporate Responsibility Manager, Christina van der Kamp. “We also made a €20,000 donation to food banks in a number of our partner schools, which was then distributed to students who rely on food served during school hours.”
With engineering at its core, Gas Networks Ireland is committed to supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) initiatives with the long-term goal of encouraging primary school students to pursue STEM subjects in secondary school and ultimately STEM careers in the future. Gas Networks Ireland also sponsors the STEM programme Energize, delivered in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland in primary schools nationwide. The programme was delivered to over 5,000 sixth class students in 19 counties last year.
During the pandemic, Gas Networks Ireland employees were determined to find ways to support learning in the home. “We partnered with Junior Achievement Ireland to make Energize resources available free to download for learning at home,” said Ms van der Kamp. “We also worked with Midlands Science to produce two environment-related, science at home videos, available via YouTube.”
BACKING AGE ACTION
Gas Networks Ireland has partnered with Age Action since 2016, donating over €150,000 worth of carbon monoxide alarms, which were installed in the homes of elderly people. Gas Networks Ireland was one of the first to support Age Action’s Covid-19 response and hardship fund, providing vital financial support for vulnerable people. “Our employees also volunteered on Age Action’s technology tutoring programme, supporting cocooners to keep in touch with friends and family by showing them how to make video calls through their smartphones,” said Ms van der Kamp. “Simple things like that helped the vulnerable in our community to feel less isolated, and we were very proud of our team offering their skills.
“The pandemic has highlighted the divide that was already in existence in some of our communities. It’s so important for businesses to step up to help bridge social inclusion gaps at the best of times, but especially now.”
Gas Networks Ireland will publish its second Sustainability Report in August, focused on its 2019 efforts across the three pillars of sustainability – Social, Environmental and Economic. See www.gasnetworks.ie/sustainability.
Ms van der Kamp added that the company was committed to responsible and sustainable business practices. “We have held the Business Working Responsibly Mark since 2013 and are one of only 34 companies in Ireland to hold it. Sustainable business practices are at the heart of our vision and strategy.”