A year of action: Celebrating global community projects in 2021

December 20, 2021

In 2021 at RSK, teams across the business have been supporting charities and community projects that leave a lasting legacy in their local communities. This year has been a difficult year in many ways, and employees at RSK and its family of businesses have donated their time and skills to support those in need. These projects have involved a range of initiatives to support worthwhile causes that have all made valuable contributions to the communities we live and work in at RSK.

All year, RSK GCS and RGM South Africa have been building sustainability by championing a recycling project to create new uses for hard-to-dispose-of plastic waste. The EcoBrick Project was launched by the team at GCS and is continuing, with all staff members from GCS, RSK GCS and RGM participating. The project aims to reduce staff members’ carbon footprint at the office and at home.

An EcoBrick is a plastic bottle tightly packed with dry, used, non-biodegradable plastics. The idea is to make use of non-recyclable plastics so they do not cause pollution or end up in water resources or landfill. EcoBricks have various uses, including in construction as bricks, for furniture production and as garden walls. Throughout the year, team members have been encouraged to make EcoBricks at home then bring them into the office. Bins are sited in the office and kitchens specifically for the placement of non-recyclable plastics and plastic bottles. Once the bins are full, the plastics are stuffed into the bottles until they are no longer squashable, creating a solid ‘brick’.

To date, more than sixty EcoBricks have been made by RSK GCS and RGM staff. The EcoBricks will be donated to a chosen disadvantaged community, an organisation such as ADVA Youth Skills Development, Diepsloot, or will be dropped off at a recycling centre.

Springtime outdoor adventures and ecology exploration days hosted by the team at RSK Netherlands have been providing educational activities for school children in collaboration with the Petje Af Foundation. The foundation aims to combat inequality of opportunity in education by empowering children’s interest in learning. In April, the team hosted a group of 30 children aged between 8 and 14 on a site visit to a park in Ridderkerk.

After a brief introduction by Managing Director and Field Engineer Jeroen Meisters, the children were introduced to RSK’s core environmental services – soil investigation and ecology – and were given the opportunity to work as junior environmentalists for an afternoon. With the help and supervision of senior project leaders, they took part in manually drilling a borehole to see the differences in the various soil layers and learned about their origins. Others walked over the field with the ecology team to look for and learn how to recognise various domestic plants and birds. The children asked lots of questions about ancient times, as plants that they never knew existed long ago are spouting and blossoming today.

“During the question and answer session at the end, one of the kids raised her hand and asked if she could get a job at RSK as a field engineer too! After such a spontaneous question, you could only end this ecology and field exploration day with a big smile on your face,” added the event day’s organiser.

During the summer, the team at RSK Tanzania continued its support for accessible education. In what has been a challenging year globally due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Linda Kavishe, the corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) representative for RSK Tanzania, and her colleagues generously donated part of their Christmas bonus to support a local school. Uhamiaji Secondary (formerly known as Keko Minazini), is a government-owned school just a couple of minutes’ walk from RSK’s Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam.

The team at RSK Tanzania has developed a special relationship with the school that began two years ago in 2019, when the business supported the school with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) learning activities. Since then, the school has grown from 1412 students to 2924 students in 2021, with the number of teachers also growing from 31 to 39. As the school continues to grow, so too does the demand for classroom resources and materials.

This year’s fundraising project took place in response to a letter received from the head teacher last Christmas describing the challenges they were facing. This included a lack of core textbooks for the pupils. In total, the RSK team donated 400,000 Tanzanian shillings, which enabled the school to purchase 16 textbooks: four for each of the key science disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology and four for mathematics. The school was able to buy additional books above these essentials and four syllabus texts were also purchased for the subjects.

Linda Kavishe added, “I think I have always been driven by change, inclusion and love for my community. I want to change the perception of what girls can and cannot do and give young people the motivation to be whatever they want to be. While private schools can have good learning resources and programmes for students, for government schools in Tanzania it is the opposite. Alongside the recent donation, our STEM activities are a way of trying to bridge this gap and we will continue to help out where we can.”

RSK has made a splash in Wales this autumn by sponsoring the “Unveil for a Tail” ocean plastic project. Based in Prestatyn, the project aims to raise awareness of and support for the clean-up of Welsh beaches and seas. The project will see the installation of between four and six 2.4-m-tall Corten Steel whale tails created by artist and conservationist Jacha Potgieter. The whale tails will form an educational hub, providing space to learn about the problem of plastic pollution and its impact on marine environments.

To raise funds for the project, local businesses and community groups have come together and ‘unveiled’ to create a tasteful nude fundraising calendar. RSK has sponsored the creation of the calendar and the distinctive green logo appears on each page. The funding provided by the sponsorship will support the realisation of the calendar that will be sold in the run up to 2022 to raise funds for the installation and education centre project.

Among the contributors to the calendar is Helen Newhill, Digital Marketing Design Specialist at RSK, and her friends at the North Wales Roller Derby. Helen and her friends took part in the photoshoot for the calendar, ‘unveiling’ for a tail that they hope will bring increased awareness of the need to protect our marine and coastal environments. Helen said of her support for the project, “We had a good giggle unveiling for a photograph. It was a lot of fun, a great boost in confidence and all for a good cause.”

The Unveil for a Tail calendar is available to order by emailing the Unveil for a Tail team or by visiting its Facebook page, with all proceeds going to towards the project.

In the UK, bts Group helped to decorate “Trees of Hope” as the festive season neared. bts arborists joined local community groups to help decorate the Christmas trees of Bury St Edmunds with special “Trees of Hope” baubles. Building contractors Bury Developments asked bts to help with decorating the town trees ahead of its annual Christmas lights event, which went ahead on 18 November.

bts arborists Will Todd and Chris Old spent a sunny morning working with project organisers Melanie Lesser (chairwoman, Bury St Edmunds and Beyond) and Michelle Freeman (founder of art group The Crafty Foxes). Will used a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) to reach the higher branches, carefully arranging baubles according to the artistic direction shouted from below!

The Trees of Hope baubles are decorated with the names and birthdates of children born during the 2021 lockdown. Inside are the parents’ wishes for their child’s future. Michelle Freeman made all 425+ decorations, which include sentiments such as, “Born in the lockdown, may you ever be free”.

In January, the baubles will go to Bury St Edmunds Library, where parents can collect them. Michelle said most intended to save them for their children to open when they got older.

The Trees of Hope project began in Christmas 2020 and is in its second year this year. Organised by local groups, including Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, The Crafty Foxes and Our Bury St Edmunds, the scheme focuses on finding and spreading messages of inspiration and positivity, even through trying times. Last year, Bury Developments brought in bts to hang the “Stars of 2020” adorned with gestures of goodwill by primary school children.

For a second year, the team at Amphos 21 is supporting a local cause as the festive period nears in Barcelona. In what has been another challenging year, the team has continued its support of the foodbank appeal at Parroquia de Sant Paulí de Nola parish. The office will again host a collection for food and essential items until Christmas week, at which time the generous donations will be given to the neighbouring parish for the priest to distribute to those in need over the festive period.

In addition to this annual support for the neighbourhood foodbank, Amphos 21 makes an annual donation to Médicos sin Fronteras. This year, as in the last five years, the business donated to support the work of Doctors Without Borders. The work of the international humanitarian organisation to provide medical relief to regions affected by conflict and endemic disease is as vital as ever with the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

As we welcome 2022, RSK will continue to make valuable contributions to the communities in which it operates, all over the world. This forms an integral part of RSK’s Sustainability Route Map and is central to our core values. We encourage all colleagues, with the help of their CR&S representatives, to come together to identify local charities and community projects they can support through collective efforts.

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