Severn Trent brings ambitious plans to tackle poverty to Derby    

Monday 20th February 2023

Severn Trent has announced plans to tackle the underlying causes of poverty in Derby.

The company is bringing a ten-year programme to support 100,000 people across the Midlands get into employment by embedding itself within communities to deliver accessible skills and training.

It’s established partnerships with The Bemrose School in Derby, and City of Derby Academy where it will work together to provide meaningful work experience placements inspiring school children to think about their future careers.

The programme builds on existing support for those living in Derby, including a partnership with Derby City Council where it’s supporting young care leavers going into independent living with reduced water bills through it’s Big Difference Scheme, which also received an additional £30m fund last year to help thousands more people with paying their bill.

For every year, across the whole Severn Trent region, the company will work with partners to help deliver: 

·         500 work experience placements for school children through partnerships with hundreds of schools, including The Bemrose School and City of Derby Academy

·         10,000 hours of free skills and employability training available for all.

·         Run a series of ‘pop up’ academies in the heart of communities working with community leads and local councils.

To launch its plans in Derby the company held a community event in Normanton where it met with locals to find out how they can save money off their bill, and how they can benefit from its plans.  

Data shows that Normanton and the Arboretum area of Derby has some of the lowest incomes in the Midlands.* Research also shows that the number of people claiming benefits is double that to the rest of the UK the national average* and why Severn Trent is first focussing its efforts in this area of the City.

To date, Severn Trent has supported nearly 18,000 customers across Derbyshire through its affordability schemes and has over 35,000 people currently on its priority services register.

Neil Morrison, HR Director at Severn Trent said: “It’s no secret that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting our communities, and people are feeling the pressures. That’s why we’re passionate about helping and providing as many positive opportunities as possible. We want to face into the fundamental causes of how people find themselves unemployed or with no access to skills and training, and do what we can to change it.

 “We already have a brilliant relationship with Derby, we have hundreds of employees here, we look after nearly 1million customers and have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds into local community projects through our community fund. This programme will see us going even further with that support and deepen our connection with the city.”

Severn Trent will be creating partnerships with schools to help those most in need to support, in particular young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), along with re-entrants into the workforce and those looking to explore a new career path. 

Research shows that young people who do not undertake work experience whilst at school are around six times* less likely to go into meaningful employment when they leave school. 

Neil Wilkinson, Executive Headteacher at The Bemrose School in Derby said: “At The Bemrose School we are very proud to be matched with such a well-known and respected company, Severn Trent. We are excited to explore the many opportunities that Severn Trent can offer our pupils including meaningful work experience opportunities across many different career routes. This partnership will allow for many learning opportunities to develop and allow the children to grow their aspirations, understand the world of work and we hope to provide an employment legacy for Severn Trent in the short term but also into the future.”

Severn Trent is also committing to giving 10,000 hours of free skills training and employability training in communities and schools to support individuals into their first job, or back in to work.  

It will look to take over unused retail spaces and community hubs such as St James Community Centre in Normanton where it will be first, to offer a range of workshops and advice, on both employment and help with bills. 

Janet Tristram from St James Centre said “It is really positive that Severn Trent are going beyond their commercial interests, to reach out to disadvantaged communities across their area and in our city of Derby! St James is excited to host the event that will help people find a job or go on free training, alongside help with water bills and how to save water, energy and money. This event is part of St James support package to the local community to help them through the cost-of-Living Crisis, which includes, free advice on benefits and energy efficiency, support to apply for government grants, family and slow cooking nights, as well as free meals and drinks.  

Derby is the second location where the company has focused its support initially, after first launching in East Birmingham in November last year. It then aims to reach out to its entire region over the next ten years.

Severn Trent already has existing support in place for individuals who are struggling to pay their water bill, this new programme goes further.

The Big Difference scheme received an additional £30m funding in May 2022 with the threshold for accessing this scheme changing to help even more customers. In total, Severn Trent is aiming to support 315,000 of its most vulnerable customers by 2025.

It also donated money to charity projects and organization’s in the region through its Community Fund. In the three years since launching, it has supported 17 projects across Derbyshire through donations of over half a million pounds.