Q: What were the origins of the EIC?
A: It all started in 1904 when 10 industry leaders met in the Holborn office of Walter Davenport of the Bottle Exchange. It might seem an unlikely place for the foundation of an organisation that was to grow into a great Electrical Industries Charity. All 10 men were pioneers of the burgeoning electrical industry. During their meeting in 1904 they had discussed what might happen to ‘those who had spent their lives in establishing the electrical industry and had been unable to secure sufficient monetary recompense to support them if accident, infirmity, misfortune, or old age, limited their activities or curtailed their means’. At the time, charities were in their infancy and state pensions, unemployment benefit, and a national health service were just a dream. But these far-sighted, public-spirited men decided to do something about providing for industry colleagues who had fallen on hard times and put in £10 pounds as a token of their intent. At the time, it was agreed among all of the men to set up an electrical charity, to be called The Electrical Trades Benevolent Institution which is now the Electrical Industries Charity. In 1905, the institution was founded and the first donation of £650 was recorded in April the same year.
Q: Who is the charity designed to help?
A: The Charity brings industries together to help their own by providing financial relief and practical support services to people and their immediate families who have worked or are working in electrical and energy- related sectors – representing 1.3 million people.
Q: In what ways can people donate to the charity?
A: There are many ways for people to get involved. They can fundraise individually with various fundraising events such as running the London Marathon for us. Other ways to contribute include:
- Participate in a challenge for a local event or pick any event and start a fundraising page and begin fundraising for us.
- Attend our regional fundraising events which provide a steady income to our charity of around 25% of revenue. In Northern Ireland, these include the Electric Lunch and the Electric Ball.
- Make corporate donations to support the charity.
Q: Why is it important that the industry gets involved?
A: When people have fallen on the worst of times we are there as the backup for the industry. It is incredibly important to remember the fundamentals of why the charity was originally set up, which was to support people within the industry who suffer significant hardship. I truly hope that you never have to ask us, but if you do, it’s nice to know that there are funds available should you need financial assistance and support services there that may not be available to you anywhere else.
Q: What was your background before joining the EIC?
A: I worked for Parsons Brinckeroff (a Balfour Beatty Company) for 11 years, heading up the oil and gas division from the southern part of the world. I’ve worked across, power mining and the heavy chemical industries.
Q: What drew you to the charity?
A: I was working on an aid project in Cambodia, building houses for families affected with HIV/AIDS and I thought it was such a shame that everyone waits until the end of their career to give back as I saw a big gap in the sector for talented and commercially-driven people. So, I made a decision to take five years out at the peak of my career to give back to an industry that has given me so much. It was the best decision I’ve made. My aim is to leave the industry in a better place than when I started. I’m hoping to shine some light on some big issues affecting our industry such as high suicide and divorce rates. Then I’ll likely return to the commercial sector.
Q: What new initiatives has the EIC planned for the future?
A: We have teamed up with Mates in Mind to roll out mental health awareness training to the industry. We offer free counselling services to anyone in the industry and their immediate family members. We are hoping to reach people earlier in the industry before their problems are harder to solve. With 1 in 3 of our applicants’ citing mental health issues we know early intervention is key. I’ve created an emerging professionals board (people with less than 10 years’ experience) to spread the mental health awareness campaign to ensure we get a fresh perspective from the industry. They will also rotate through our trustee board, encouraging diversity at all levels of our industry.
Q: How important is the support from regional committees such as Northern Ireland?
A: It is hugely important and Northern Ireland has always been a great supporter of the EIC. We like to work collaboratively with all our industry supporters and as I’m in Belfast regularly, I’m more than happy to meet up with any company wanting to learn more about how we can work together. Our first Challenge-for-a-Cause case was from Northern Ireland. Nine industry people climbed Mt Kilimanjaro with me in February raising an impressive £80k. The Northern Ireland family received £83k from the Charity in June 2017.
Q: What initiative, current or future, are you most excited about?
A: Our major fundraising for a cause case will see the Charity work with the industry to build a t-for-purpose house for the Caz Dickinson appeal. It is kind of like a DIY SOS project.
T: 0044 (0)20 3696 1710