The only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales has hosted a group of sixth formers to work with its Board to help it make big decisions on its future.
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water invited 15 young people from schools across South Wales, aged 16-18,to form the Youth Board to advise the Board of Glas Cymru – which owns Welsh Water for the sole purpose of running it as a not-for-profit company – on how to tackle significant issues facing the company in the future.
Sixth formers from several schools across South Wales applied, including Cardiff High School, Monmouth School, St Julian’s School in Newport, Fitzalan High School in Cardiff, Bassaleg School and Cwmbran High School.
The Youth Board acted as a forum for future generations of Welsh Water customers to debate long-term company plans. It gives the company an insight into a new generation of customers which has grown up in the digital age – which has seen the way customers communicate with the company changing rapidly, and where customer expectations have risen significantly.
The sixth formers have been working over the summer on improving Welsh Water’s flagship Let’s Stop the Block campaign; which encourages and educates customers of the importance of not flushing wet wipes and cotton buds down the toilet, as well as not pouring fat and grease down the sink, to reduce unnecessary blockages in the pipe network.
The group then met with directors of Welsh Water to present ideas and solutions to improve the business for the future.
The students will be able to use this valuable experience of working on a Board when applying for university or apprenticeship places, as well as for future job applications. The skills acquired through working on the Youth Board will help those considering a career in business management, engineering or customer services.
Toby Black from Cardiff High said: “I saw the Youth Board on the school’s Twitter account and thought it was something unusual to help with my skills in the world of work.
“I think if Welsh Water can get the perspective of young people, it allows them to design improvements around a group whose opinions aren’t usually taken into account and it allows for a wider breadth of innovation.”
Alun Shurmer, Welsh Water’s Director of Customer Strategy and Communications, said: “Our world is changing at a rapid pace – with the digital revolution ushering in new and innovative ways for customers to communicate with us – and we need to respond to that.
“The new Youth Board will have a unique insight into how we respond to this ever-changing world – where we will be expected to deliver high-quality services in an era of high political, economic and climate volatility. They will be our customers in this world – so we look forward to getting a fantastic insight into how we need to respond to their needs.”