Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for keeping the lights on across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, is helping pupils from Bradford Forster Academy learn about vulnerable people in the community they live in.
The electricity distributor has partnered with Yorkshire based social enterprise Ahead Partnership to deliver Watt a Community, for the second year, to promote its Priority Services Register and encourage local communities to support vulnerable people during a power cut.
Anyone with a disability, medical condition or a very young family, who may need greater assistance during a power cut, can sign up to Northern Powergrid's free Priority Services Register online or by calling the Powergrid Care team on 0800 169 2996.
Groups of students from Bradford Forster Academy were tasked with designing a community event which had a minimum of 50 vulnerable people attending from the local community and included stall holders from a range of community groups, support services and charities. Northern Powergrid and the Ahead Partnership held a workshop at the school to help the pupils think about their local community and who might be vulnerable or become vulnerable during a power cut in preparation for designing their own event.
The students then pitched their community event ideas, which focused on raising awareness of Northern Powergrid's Priority Services Register, to a 'Dragon Den' style panel of judges made up of Northern Powergrid volunteers.
The judges we're impressed the four winning pupil's, Emma Runciman, Aisha Mehmood, Leah Karim and Aleesha Moyo, idea to host a 'Sunday Fun day' with the students creating a petting zoo so older people in the community could enjoy spending time learning about the animals and petting them. The event would also include music, entertainment and refreshments to encourage as many elderly people as possible from the community to attend.
The students will now start planning their community event with the opportunity to 'apply' for up to £1,000 of funding from Northern Powergrid to bring their event to life this summer.
Siobhan Barton, Northern Powergrid's head of stakeholder relations, said: "The winning group came up with a really original theme for their community event and our judges were very impressed. We know that their 'Sunday Fun Day' will be a great day for the local community and will help raise awareness of our Priority Services Register.
"Whilst power cuts are rare, thanks to our investment in the electricity network, and for most simply an inconvenience, for someone who has a medical condition or equipment which relies on electricity, is unwell, disabled, elderly or has a very young family to look after, it could have a greater impact. This means that raising awareness of our Priority Services Register and encouraging anyone who needs extra support to sign up is really important so we can reach out to the people who need us most if the lights go out.
"Last year's pilot was an amazing success with winning pupils from Beckfoot School, in Bradford hosting a 1940s vintage fair which brought the community together, encouraged local people to sign up to our Register and helped build links between young people and their local community. This year we've extended the programme to extra schools across our area to give more students the opportunity to take part, as well as reaching out to more of the communities we work and live in."
Megan Lipp, head of business development from Ahead Partnership, said: “We’re excited to continue our partnership with Northern Powergrid for another year, working in some of the most hard to reach areas of the community. In compliment to raising awareness of the Priority Services Register, Northern Powergrid are also educating students about the wide range of roles in the utilities sector, emphasising what an exciting career this can be. We are thrilled at the opportunity to extend the challenge this year to three areas to have a wider impact to our partner schools and students.”
Rachel Murphy-Dawson, teacher at Bradford Forster Academy, said: "What a fantastic day. Students worked hard to create the best event for older people to enjoy. There was a lot of team work, leadership, co-operation and endurance throughout the day. Thank you so much."