NGN working in the “art” of the community

The north of England’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has launched a community art programme as part of its continued commitment to supporting, protecting and educating young people in the region.

NGN’s local community artist, Mick Hand, works with primary school children and other community groups in areas across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Cumbria where essential gas pipe replacement work is taking place.

In specially devised workshops, Mick works with young people to create drawings of NGN’s gas mains improvement works and more. Mick also recently completed a special project with children on the cancer ward at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).

“We were approached by LGI as they wanted to brighten up the cancer ward with artwork created by the children”, said Mick. “I worked with the children, parents and staff from the ward over the course of a few weeks to create a colourful mural to help decorate the playroom”.

The art programme is one of a number of schemes developed to engage with local communities and help children to develop vital skills whilst educating them and their families about the role that NGN plays in distributing gas to households. The workshops also raise awareness of the dangers of playing near road works.

Describing the initiative, Mick, said: “The school sessions start with me explaining what NGN does through a fun and interactive presentation whilst making sure that the key safety messages are communicated. We then create a number of paintings of things associated with NGN such as our vehicles and highway road signs.

“The paintings are then merged together into a giant mural which can be used on our site fencing, on customer letters, and even on the side of our vehicles.”

Art workshops are also being used as part of NGN’s Warm and Informed scheme which sees Mick engaging with disadvantaged young people to educate them about how to save energy at home, through art.

As well as working with community groups, Mick has also been capturing the legacy of gas holders across the region as they are demolished.

“These gas holders have been in our communities for over 100 years but as technology has advanced, it means we no longer need them”, added Mick.

“Generations of families have grown up with these impressive structures in their towns and NGN felt that it was important to capture this aspect of our industrial history before they’re gone forever.”

Tom Bell, head of Social Strategy at NGN, said: “We’re committed to supporting our local communities and ensuring that we take every opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives through education initiatives like this one.”

He added: “When essential repair works take place, it can cause disruption and the approach is an effective way of engaging local communities ahead of work starting, as well as educating about gas safety and raising general awareness about NGN.”

Mural at LGI children's cancer ward as part of NGN's community artist programme
Mural at LGI children’s cancer ward as part of NGN’s community artist programme

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