Then and Now: An award-winning programme for environmental best practice
EASST’s award-winning Donations Programme was first established in response to the need for hi-viz materials by rural farmers in Ukraine and Moldova. A chance discussion with EASST Advisory Board member Toby Howe found that local authorities in the UK as well as a number of construction companies were holding on to stores of surplus PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that they were seeking to dispose of responsibly, including hi-viz clothing and other materials.
Rather than sending these items to landfill, in 2013 Toby joined up with EASST, taking 10 days leave from his role as Highways Manager in Kent, to drive the goods 3,500 across Europe accompanied by Bryan Dearsley (a Canadian free-lance journalist and author). At the end of the road, EASST partner, the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM) received over 350 high visibility jackets which were used during their pedestrian visibility campaigns in rural areas.
After this, EASST began collecting and shipping more donations to its partners for use in their projects working with local communities. To date, over 7,000 items worth approximately £45,000 have been donated, primarily by Kier Group and Kent County Council, and shipped to EASST partners across the region. The programme has grown to include a network of actors who facilitate the donation of good-quality, disused stock – now extended to medical equipment and child car seats – on an on-going basis.
Before shipping, all donations are carefully examined and catalogued to ensure they are clean, safe and fit for purpose. In the case of child car seats, EASST has worked with the AA to develop a comprehensive safety checking procedure and has trained volunteers to carry out the checks.
The programme not only provides essential lifesaving equipment to countries with very limited resources, but also enhances every aspect of EASST’s work. EASST partners carefully match donations with recipients to ensure they are used to maximum effect. Where possible, shipments are linked to projects where they can add value over and above their own core use. For example, the shipments help build positive and effective relationships with police (developing community road policing), emergency services, municipal authorities, and governments. These strong relationships enable EASST to tackle challenging issues and entrenched attitudes, and enhance the reach and influence of its projects and lifesaving work. In partnership with Kier Group, the Donations Programme has won four consecutive Green Apple awards for environmental best practice (2015-2018), and in 2018 received an International CSR Gold Award.
This year we have developed the Programme further in collaboration with FedEx Express, working with the Belarusian Auto Moto Touring Club and the Belarusian Association of Assistance to Children and Young People with Disabilities, a social enterprise initiative. Unsuitable donations (they could be ripped, or an irregular size) are being recycled and repurposed into ‘mascots’ or tags for school bags and coats to promote children’s visibility and safety on the roads.