Duncan Clark is the Head of Region UK for Ørsted, the world’s leading offshore wind energy provider, recently celebrating 10 years of involvement in the Humber region. Ørsted’s East Coast Hub located on the port in Grimsby now has over 500 people working from it.
Duncan shares how Ørsted supports Horizon Youth Zone in Grimsby and the importance of raising aspirations and providing local opportunities for young people.
“When I visited Legacy Youth Zone in Croydon I was massively impressed by the range of activities taking place and could see how friendly and welcoming a place the staff and volunteers created, and how much young people were enjoying being there.
There was a real sense of fun, and variety, climbing and cooking and filming and basketball were taking place in different indoor spaces, there was football on the pitch on the roof, and young people hanging out while playing table tennis. It is so, so valuable to have access to safe and stimulating environments.
Ørsted’s journey with Horizon Youth Zone started when the government invited Grimsby to be one of 100 places in England to develop proposals for the town as part of a multi-million-pound fund called the Grimsby Town Deal. Ørsted worked with local leadership to see the Deal grow. As part of the second phase of the Deal, North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) announced that it would be working with OnSide to create Horizon Youth Zone.
Working closely with the council, in 2020 Ørsted pledged a £1million donation towards Horizon Youth Zone, because we believe it will help raise aspirations and also provide a safe and nurturing environment for the many thousands of young people that will pass through it’s doors.
Over the next decade, it is estimated that the number of people working out of Ørsted’s East Coast Hub will increase to over 800. We value our employees, their families and are keen to help provide for the next generation in and around Grimsby. When we learnt what the people at OnSide had planned for Horizon Youth Zone, we recognised the similarities in our company visions and were keen to support the project in whichever way we could.
With a long-term plan for our investment and operations in the town, we are excited to see the Youth Zone succeed in its mission to enable young people to discover their purpose.
We’ve had the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Youth Zone’s Young People’s Development Group, these inspirational young people have taken part in a number of high-profile events with us including a media visit for the launch of our new Service Operations Vessel, the Wind of Hope. They’ve taken part in public speaking at the Hornsea Two celebration event, as well taking to a national stage for the largest offshore wind conference, Global Offshore Wind. Proud and creative, this group are keen to develop themselves and their local area.
The passion that young people already have for Horizon, before it’s even officially been opened, is a credit to OnSide and something that I believe should encourage local businesses to get behind. It’s a fantastic cause that has already started to make a difference to the lives of young people in the local area.
Over the past five years, Ørsted has trained 39 apprentices across the UK. Over the next decade on the East Coast alone, we’re expecting to start more than 80 new apprenticeships across a range of technical and non-technical roles. We’ve created these positions because we believe it’s important to give young people their opportunity to get involved.
OnSide enable opportunities for everyone and they focus their efforts on some of the UK’s most socio-economically challenged areas. To fuel passion and drive for change, young people need to know that they matter, that they’re supported and that companies believe in them.
The next generation are keen to create change across their communities and Youth Zones provide young people with opportunities where their ideas can flourish. It’s so important to have places like this to encourage and enable pioneers for change.
Society needs to listen to the next generation – they’re the ones who are going to be living in the world that we leave behind. They’re so in tune with their environment and what’s happening across our planet, we should inspire them to believe in themselves and discover their own potential.
It would be wrong to generalise, however I do feel as though there are many young people who today feel weighed down somewhat by the climate change crisis. They might also feel a certain responsibility to improve the current state of the world.Whilst climate change is the single greatest long-term threat facing society, we, as today’s leaders, must be the ones to accelerate efforts to tackle it, and show the positive pathways.
Of course, it’s important for the next generation of young people to be aware of this ambition for change and to support it, but they also need the opportunity to grow and flourish. For them to play, achieve, learn and dream without the responsibility of the world on their shoulders. We’re excited to see Horizon be the place to offer these opportunities.