The company’s Interpon Powder Coatings business, based in Felling, is working in conjunction with Newcastle University, Durham Wildlife Trust and Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council in an effort to target three sites within the surrounding area which could have a benefit for the local community by virtue of their wildlife and/or industrial history.
Three sites have already been selected—a disused quarry, a riverside trail next to the Akzo Nobel facility and an artificial “cliff” near the River Tyne—the idea being that local people, including schoolchildren, will help to develop the areas into nature reserves or walks.
“We have launched this project as part of our overall commitment to the concepts of Corporate Social Responsibility,” explained Alison Schreiber, Powder Coatings’ HR projects manager. “One of the aims of the project is to raise awareness in young people of the importance and value of their environmental heritage and enhance feelings of pride in the locality.
“We want to involve young people in issues such as the conservation of the environment where they can have an influence and make a real difference by helping to preserve historical knowledge.”
The project is being sponsored by several parties—with Akzo Nobel and the university being the primary financial donors—and because it is a business unit project rather than just a local one, one of the future aims is to join up with a second Interpon powder site in another part of the world, where similar activities will be carried out.
This will give children the opportunity to link up via the internet, swap information and share experiences about their respective projects.
Employees at the Felling site are also getting involved. A trail showing points of interest with respect to natural and industrial history has been drafted for the riverside walk which runs near the site. Members of staff have been asked to “test” the trail by walking it with their families and completing a questionnaire.
The results will then be used to produce an information leaflet for the public (leaflets will be printed for all three locations) to help raise awareness of industrial heritage and wildlife.
(Released: September 24, 2004)