How ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund is tackling suicide & educational access

If you want to create a brighter future, you need to address the biggest social issues and inequalities facing the next generation.

That’s the driving principle behind the Energy for Generations Fund, ESB’s corporate social responsibility fund. Since its foundation 10 years ago, the fund has contributed more than €10m to charitable organisations working with homelessness, education access and support, and suicide prevention.

It’s all about giving back to Irish communities and building a better life for future generations. Having a social purpose is one thing but the challenge is to translate that into real, lasting, effective change in the community. That’s why the fund is focused on these three key social issues and on providing funding for the charities and initiatives that are on the front lines all across Ireland.

Another ESB initiative allows staff who volunteer within their own community for at least 20 hours per year to apply for funding of up to €250 for their chosen charity. This empowers their staff to make a difference in their own local areas and to support the great work that is being carried out in their communities.

ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund is currently inviting funding applications from charitable organisations across the country. Here are just some of the projects and initiatives that have benefited from the support of the fund.

Education matters

Providing people with an education is one of the best ways to empower them and fuel their future success. One educational organisation that has benefited from ESB’s fund is An Cosán Virtual Community College (VCC).

The work of VCC is driven by the knowledge of what its director, Liz Waters, calls ‘the one generation solution.’ If you educate a young lone parent to degree level, they will earn 68pc more than someone without a degree and this helps single-parent families to break out of the poverty trap. Senator Lynn Ruane, a past-participant of An Cosán, is an example of how education can act as a springboard to a better life. 

2019 will see up to 1,000 students engaged in education with VCC in partnership with 26 centres nationwide. This will help students who could not otherwise access or afford education to pursue an educational pathway to personal fulfilment.

VCC is at the forefront of educational technology in Ireland, offering an online model of blended learning to empower individuals to fulfil their potential. VCC also offers CPD opportunities for community organisations and tutors working in the sector. An Cosán is determined to achieve their mission, to bring equity of access to education by offering an information-age solution to one of Ireland’s most entrenched social problems.

Opening up a conversation on suicide

One of the ambitions of ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund is to help “generation tomorrow” to reach their full potential. To help with this aim, they’ve partnered with Aware to roll-out its ‘Life Skills for Schools’ programme for transition year students over a three-year period.

Based on Aware’s Life Skills programme for adults, the six-week intensive programme teaches students to understand the relationship between thoughts, feelings and actions. It helps them to understand the impact of external events, to look at challenges differently, to develop inner confidence, and to understand how they can improve their own wellbeing.

Research into youth mental health is the first step to providing supports and services that are tailored to their needs. ESB is sponsoring the roll out of its My World Survey 2 initiative, as part of its long-term partnership with Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health in Ireland.

As one of the most comprehensive mental health studies of its kind in Ireland, it will provide vital data on key youth mental health indicators. It will also shine a light on the risk and protective factors that can assist in predicting suicidal behaviour. A survey of this kind can potentially reveal issues that we didn’t even know existed and raise questions that we never even thought to ask.

Helping the Homeless

Homelessness is a massive challenge for Irish society and the Energy for Generations Fund is working with organisations all across the country to address this critical issue.

For instance, ESB has donated to the Mid-West Simon Community for their ‘Housing First-Children First’ project. This funding facilitated the purchase of playground equipment for children in the homeless hub and provided support items as they moved into permanent accommodation. ESB has also contributed to the purchase of a van for Wexford Women’s Refuge and for The Cavan Centre towards its respite programmes.

Apply now

ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund is currently accepting applications. To find out more or to make an application, check out the website.

This article appeared in the Irish Independent on Wednesday December 5 2018.