Community

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It is important to us that our activities have a positive social impact and that we understand and respond to our customers' needs. This includes helping those who struggle to pay and communicating with our customers in ways which suit them best.

It also extends to the following areas of community engagement:

  • minimising the impact of construction or other operational work on people's lives and businesses
  • supporting employment, learning and education in the region
  • providing opportunities for access and recreation (e.g. at our reservoirs through the South West Lakes Trust)
  • fundraising and supporting local charities and organisations
  • employee volunteering (e.g. for beach cleans and other community-focused activities)

Click on the links below to find out about our community-focused activities and initiatives.     

      

Employee Volunteering

Our Employee Volunteering initiative enables staff to volunteer on one day per year to assist with projects linked in some respect to the environment, water or youth.

From beach cleans and forestry work to gardening at the Children's Hospice South West, the initiative is designed to make a positive difference while encouraging staff to take a wider interest in the communities they serve.

Beach cleans

Since 2011 we have supported Keep Britain Tidy's BeachCare initiative. The removal of rubbish from the region's beaches clearly benefits local communities and makes beaches more attractive to tourists.

Beach cleaning also positively impacts on marine wildlife by helping to remove items that might contaminate the water or snare and kill certain species. Volunteers have helped clean beaches from Porthtowan to Bude on the north coast of the region and from Portwrinkle to Budleigh in the south.

Neil Hembrow, Beach Care Coordinator, estimates that our volunteers have so far cleared more than six tonnes of rubbish.

'Come rain or shine I have always been impressed by the enthusiasm and energy of South West Water beach clean teams. Sometimes we have had to go that extra mile when visiting remote beaches where the marine litter problems are at their worst.

Despite the arduous journey back from the beach with full bags, the groups' humour and teamwork are a great help when tackling the climbs and remote beach paths. Personally, its always an enjoyable and successful visit to the beach with South West Water staff.'

Support For Education

Vital to the sustainability of our region and our business are the steps we take to develop the local skills base.

As well as our apprenticeship scheme, we have close links with the region's schools, colleges and universities and provide educational materials, school talks, work experience placements and guest lectures (on university courses at Exeter, Plymouth and Bristol).

We have also been instrumental in the establishment of the new University Technical College for the region, based at Newton Abbot in Devon. www.southdevonutc.org

For additional information and resources visit our Learning Zone

Engaging With Our Customers

It's vital that we respond to our customers' needs and preferences. To help us understand exactly what those are we do our best to provide opportunities for dialogue and feedback.

These include:

  • quarterly customer satisfaction survey
  • focus groups on specific topics (e.g. brand awareness)
  • community Team activity
  • company presentations to community groups
  • the use of social media (including our facebook and twitter pages)
  • qualitative survey of customer views as part of SIM (Service Incentive Mechanism - the industry measure of customer service)

Customer engagement in support of the Business Plan to 2020- 2025

The community team played a key part in our largest ever programme of customer engagement programme in support of our Business Plan to 2020, which was vital to ensure the plan reflected what customers wanted. .

Our plan was singled out for praise from Ofwat, with the regulator noting the high quality of our engagement process. Find out more here

Following on from the success of our last Business Plan the team will be a fundamental componenet to speaking with our customers to underpin the next Business Plan 2020-2025 submission to the industry regulator Ofwat, which will determine prices for 2020-2025.

Help Where It's Needed

We aim to treat all our customers appropriately to their circumstances and we offer a range of schemes and initiatives for those who genuinely struggle to pay their bills. We also offer practical advice in areas such as water and energy efficiency.

Our affordability schemes include:

  • Instalment-based flexible payment plans
  • Switching to a water meter
  • WaterSure tariff - for those in receipt of means-tested benefit or Tax Credit
  • WaterCare tariff – our means-tested social tariff for those on very low incomes.

More information on all our schemes (jncluding how to apply) can be found here.

Opening Up Our Sites To The Public

Our Heritage Open Days provide valuable opportunities for the public to find out more about the services we provide. These include guided tours of our reservoirs, water and wastewater treatment works.

Look out for details for this years' tours.

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