How Grimsby's offshore wind industry is helping to light up the lives of some of those most in need
Published: 24 Sep 2015
Grimsby's burgeoning offshore wind industry is helping to inspire even those furthest away from the paths that can lead to opportunities it is creating, the town's leading investor Dong Energy has been told.
A SIZEABLE donation, to mark the completion of a very successful project.
But it was the words of gratitude from a charity benefactor that underlined how much more is being done on an aspirational level by the relatively new game in town.
Doorstep senior manager Julie Walmsley had been invited to the construction base on Port of Grimsby East, after Dong Energy employees Emma Hunt and Lucy Sinclair had selected the young person's critical support charity to benefit from the Westermost Rough completion party.
The event, held at Healing Manor earlier in the summer, brought together stakeholders, contractors and employees, as well as partners, to toast a world's first, with the Siemens 6MW turbines – 35 in all – deployed on a commercial scale for the first time.
And while the marquees, music and hangovers have long gone, the legacy clearly lives on.
"Your industry is a great talking point locally with young people," Julie told Tue Lippert, the Grimsby-based project leader.
"It is a quite exciting thing, for the young men particularly, but also the young women. They want to see how they can get in to that.
"Some are quite far away from the world of work, but they see it as a quite exciting thing to try to work towards."
There was also an awareness of the impact the industry is having on the rest of the community, from sandwich shops and taxi firms, to hotels, restaurants and bars, through to engineering firms, ships' agents and an arriving supply chain – creating jobs that may well be in reach, as further skills are pursued and training courses established.
It was something of a quite unexpected fillip when you consider the picture painted by Skint, less than 12 months ago, which conveniently missed the £20 million investments into the port, dwelling instead on the fishing woes that could have been told anytime in the lifetime of those now building this new energy infrastructure on our doorstep.
The £4,548 raised, through raffle and auction, will go towards the emergency case fund, with a food bank and moving-in packs, including cleaning items and toiletries, for an area that is still picking up the pieces from many missed opportunities, and the easy excuse of Iceland or Europe to several generations of worklessness and state dependency. They are making a difference in an area that proved to be easy pickings for "poverty porn", which in turn did very little to give anything back.
The Dong team heard how Doorstep has an open access drop-in centre on the East Marsh, one of the most deprived wards in the country.
"We have been there 25 years now and have quite a track record," Julie said. "Young people walk in off the street, when they don't know where to turn. We are usually the last port of call, when there had been a crisis."
Six case workers help find accommodation, with a lodging scheme as well as access to 89 bed spaces in the area, from shared housing, small flats to terraced homes. Family breakdown is the number one cause.
"It is not just about putting a roof over someone's head. Everyone gets a worker assigned and we try to work out a plan, be it work, education or even see if we can rebuild that family relationship."
A total of 119 young people are on the books, with 1,500 support session a year, of which 400 will be completely new cases.
"Some of the people we are working with now, their mums and dads used to be with us 15 years ago," Julie added.
She said in the ten years she has been with the programme she has seen a marked increase in the number of young people in education or work. "We have had some fantastic success stories, it is not all doom and gloom," she said, telling how mental illness and drink and drug abuse in families can be root causes.
"When people come in to the drop-in centre and we listen to their stories, I often think how fantastic they are to be still stood there, having looked after themselves relatively well. They have already got through a lot of adversity at a young age, and are very clear about what they want, they just need a little bit of support.
"We have had two people go to university this year, and people do come back and tell us their stories, and bring their children."
Mr Lippert, a father-of-two, heads back to Denmark this weekend after three years in an area he was delighted to call home, with Race Bank now the on-project in town, and Westermost Rough handed over to the operations and maintenance team in Grimsby's Royal Dock. He said: "I certainly hope this fund will help, and I hope they feel like something is changing. There is a positive wave coming through this area."
The site and commissioning project manager had initially set a target of £3,000, smashing it by nearly 50 per cent thanks to the prize donors and the guests who gave freely on a balmy night in July.
"The support we had to achieve this was overwhelming from the business community," Mr Lippert added.
"I asked the team to find a charity that we could support because local engagement for Westermost Rough and the team has been extremely important. I was especially looking at the future, young people, education, and opportunity, that was really important."
A total of 90 guests contributed to the raffle, with the auction raising a further £790. Additional donations were also received from Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises, Windpower Support and Associated British Ports.
Doorstep told how donations were also dropped in at the Pasture Street centre following the event.
Source: Grimsby Telegraph