Workplace and Employment Awards

Twenty years investing in north's gas network and community

programme for life: Alex Megarry, communications manager at Phoenix Natural Gas

THIS year marks the 20th anniversary since natural gas was introduced to Northern Ireland by Phoenix Natural Gas.

The company arrived in 1996 and since then has invested half-a-billion pounds in laying some 3,500km of pipework making it the largest natural gas distribution and gas services business in the north.

To date, more than 300,000 properties have been given access to gas, and the majority of those -194,000 - have been connected to the network.

The gas market in Northern Ireland has transformed the fuel industry locally, with Phoenix the catalyst of those changes.

"The introduction of natural gas has brought huge benefits to the domestic and business user," said Alex Megarry, communications manager at Phoenix Natural Gas.

"The sector now provides employment for almost 3,000 people across a supply chain that includes merchants, retailers of appliances and the more than 300 installation companies that all meet the criteria to be accredited by Phoenix.

"All parts of the chain work in sync to bring the many benefits of natural gas to consumers and in the process removing 270,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere annually - the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road each year.

But the benefits extend far beyond providing a competitive fuel which has a positive impact on the environment."

She added: "Phoenix takes its corporate responsibility very seriously and as such has developed its own programme Phoenix LIFE - standing for Leadership in the marketplace, Investing in our people, Fostering our community and Environmental responsibility.

"Phoenix LIFE was designed to provide the overarching framework for the range of initiatives undertaken by Phoenix to positively impact the marketplace, workplace, environment and community, in line with and to support the main business objectives."

The approach, which continues to evolve is inclusive of all staff right through to the directors and CEO, which is a key element to the effectiveness of the corporate responsibility strategy and LIFE committee.

Meanwhile, the company set up the Energy for Children Charitable Trust to provide financial support to groups and individuals that may slip through the net of the wider charity network.

The trust belongs to the wider natural gas industry with Phoenix covering all administration costs behind the scenes so that every penny raised goes directly to those who need it most.

The industry trade has been instrumental in its fundraising efforts and also plays a key role in identifying people or groups for funding.

Since its formation in 2005 the trust has helped over 5,000 local children and every month continues to help those who need it most.

Phoenix’s investment in community is a long-term one put in place to strategically benefit both the organisation and the local communities that it serves.

The financial resources attributed to Phoenix LIFE are far outweighed by the voluntary effort, commitment and time given by staff to maximise the impact of all initiatives pursued.

:: The 10th anniversary Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards takes place in Titanic Belfast on Thursday June 16. For entry pack and awards information visit www.irishnews.com/wea16

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