News Archive: 2013
Two of TCW’s interns working on the Access to Affordable Energy Programme, Adam and Chloe, both of the University of Bristol, have raised funds to travel to India on a fact-finding mission. Their purpose is to better understand the energy needs of the communities that TCW is hoping to support, the potential for renewable energy solutions and the impact of working with these communities in the context of local development.
The pair’s first stop was the Ramakrishna Sarada Samiti (RKSS) centre, located in one of the largest slums in Mumbai. Their aims were to find out about people’s energy use, lifestyle and income, as well as their most pressing needs. With local children as their translators they interviewed over 30 residents of the slum, as well as holding a focus group with 29 parents.
“The centre is a real hub of activity bringing the community together and providing much needed resources for the local area”, they enthused.
Next they visited the Ramakrishna mission centre, north of Mumbai, which provides free practical training for young people in skills like carpentry and tailoring in return for three hours work per day. It also houses a fantastically sustainable biogas plant which:
- converts cow dung into natural gas for cooking (enough for over 400 people per day!)
- generates some electricity as a ‘by-product’ which provides some of the centre’s power
- produces a rich effluent waste which constitutes an ideal fertilizer for growing crops and vegetables
A trip to Pune, about 100km south-east of Mumbai, took them to the Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, where they learnt about community biomass projects and some of the astounding technology currently on the market – including a family-sized biomass digester which can run off a household’s food waste and is made entirely from commonly available parts. The company even provide a step-by-step guide of how to make one yourself!
The duo have now headed to Madurai in the south of the subcontinent, and next week will be carrying out energy assessments and interviews with the communities living in the rural villages near Tirunelveli, in the area where TCW’s first wind turbine sites are located.
Watch this space for more developments over the three weeks of the research trip, as Adam and Chloe collect more valuable insights into what kind of solutions could be ideal to help people living in fuel poverty to access an affordable, sustainable energy supply.
If you’d like to contribute to their trip, to help cover some of the costs such as translators and drivers, it’s not too late! You can visit their fundraising page here: https://sponsorcraft.com/p/theconvergingworld/
Discount Banner Printing have very kindly offered to print the recipe books created by the children on our Global Citizen Twinning Programme for free!
We would like to say a huge thank-you to them for their generous support.
If you are a registered charity contact them and they might do the same for you!
Last night's Ladies Night at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol raised a fabulous £700 for TCW and the event was a roaring success.
46 tickets were sold and these lovely ladies enjoyed a range of beauty treatments and cocktails in wonderful female company.
Everyone left very happy, the lucky ones with a fab raffle prize in their new cardboard bags!
TCW's CEO Wendy Stephenson had hoped to be at the event but had to fly out to India at short notice. The following is an address she had planned to make that we thought we would share here...
I am so sorry that I am unable to be with you all tonight, to hang out with the girls! But in my place is the Indian George Clooney, please meet Balajee one of our management team.
I was asked to record an address for the event but am quite relieved that this is not possible…you will be more so! I hate seeing or hearing recordings of myself and my niece Natalie (in the room) hates it even more –so you are spared the embarrassment, Natalie. It is vanity really, because I think I sound like Joanna Lumley and look like something like Katherine Hepburn, imagine my confusion and horror when the real me is played back!
The idea for this ladies night came from Kelly (thank you, Kelly), when we were all brainstorming about how we might be able to raise some funds for some of the people and their projects that we support both in Bristol and the UK.
But actually, it has become so much more than a fund-raising event. What I have witnessed during the last few weeks is the joy that women experience when they want to come together. The excitement around the office has been noticeable – more so than putting in 100s of wind turbines!
And it slowly dawned on me how much I actually miss the company of women in a social environment and I wondered how many more of you feel the same.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am not a man hater, I love them and have always had many male friends, my male colleagues are wonderful and very supportive, but they do look a bit terrified when I ask them, “does this color suit me”?
I think it’s a fair assumption that many of you here tonight will feel a bit time starved more often than not, there’s work, there’s children if you are lucky enough to have them and there’s the partner, if you are unlucky enough to have one! And my observation is that as a woman you will put everyone else’s needs first, it’s natural, it’s just what we do.
Trenna and Claire, here tonight, recently said to me, “Wendy you look like you need feeding!” I almost replied “But I am not hungry” when something told me that actually these are very spiritual women and they are probably not going to send out for takeaway.
What they have taught me is that we really need to nourish ourselves, but in practice, given that we are not very good at putting our own needs first, how many of us actually do it.
This is the same the world over. In one of the slums in Mumbai where we are working, the doctors found that many of the women would give their food to the rest of the family first leaving themselves without. Many of these women are of child bearing age and this lack of nutrition leads to many birth defects which continues the cycle of hardship for another generation. The doctors working in the RKSS community centre tried to give them extra nutritious food but again they would just give this to their family. The doctors finally came up with a solution, which is to give them nutritional powder, and called it mother’s medicine! This little story serves to illustrate that we don’t always put our own needs first but if we don’t, it can also harm those around us. Sometimes we need protecting from ourselves!
Being in the company of women, can feed us, women, are great empathisers, who want to care for and protect others, it’s our biological instinct to nurture and if we don’t have female company, and yes, sometimes all female company, then I feel something is missing, a vital ingredient which reminds us of the goodness that can exist in the world, reaching out to others and keeping us all just a little bit safer. Women can protect us from ourselves!
So what actually started out as fundraising event, has in fact become, for me, much more meaningful, in the company of women I can find out what colours suit me best, whether my bum looks big in this, and what is the best foundation for my skin tone!
Joking aside, this is all important stuff, coming together is important, not necessarily to save the planet or to discuss a single issue but to empathise and gain nourishment just from being a woman in the company of other women.
So I would like to thank all you beautiful women for coming tonight, to just be in the company of other women and be yourselves, that is pure Joy in itself, I hope you can celebrate this.
I would like to personally thank Kelly, Claire and Eleanor for organizing the event, and the members of the TCW team for supporting, the wonderful beauticians for serving you all, and of course BQ and John for their generous use of the space, as well as all the other contributers of prizes and stalls, and anyone else that I may have forgotten, please forgive me and perhaps John will thank you personally.
I am not sure if we will run another event like this but my one hope is that after tonight many of us will make the effort to try and get together more often, not around a single issue, but just for us.
Finally, to my wonderfully, supportive male colleagues, if I am released to be in the company of women more often, then I am likely to become less combative and you will go home with fewer black eyes!
Bless you all and a little bit of extra love to Natalie!
Take a look at Blue & Green's article, interviewing TCW CEO Wendy Stephenson about TCW's mission and opportunities for investment.
|On Wednesday 26th June 2013 the TCW team partnered with JT Group Limited, will be hosting a Ladies Night at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol.|
The fun starts at 7pm and throughout the evening there will be:
*Mini-beauty treatments provided by a team of beauty consultants including Reflexology, Manicure, Pedicure, Indian Head Massage.
*Upstairs bar area - Serving a range of drinks and providing mini-cocktail master-classes.
*Stalls from Avon Cosmetics, The Health & Beauty Company, recycled cardboard gifts and a mini boutique style stall run by members of the TCW team.
*Charity raffle - Prizes include tickets to The Old Vic & Bristol Zoo, as well as a number of other wonderful treats.
*Book and clothes swap - Please bring along your unwanted books or clothes to swap
PLUS each ticket entitles you to a free drink and mini beauty treatment. An evening of fun for just a £10 donation! We look forward to seeing you there!
For further details, please contact Kelly, Eleanor or Claire on 0117 917 7200 or email: eleanorbeddoes@theconvergi
Ways to obtain tickets:
By cheque - Please send a cheque payable to "The Converging World" to 70 Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4HU (Please provide your name, address and contact details and the number of tickets you require)
By debit or credit card - Donations can be made through this website - just follow this link www.theconvergingworld.org
Thank you for your ongoing support!
We are very happy to announce that Vodaphone World of Difference has awarded 3 individuals funding to spend time working for TCW over the coming months to help develop projects and further our reach.
The World of Difference UK programme gives 500 people each year the chance to work for their dream charity, and get paid. Over the years they have helped hundreds of people donate their skills and experience to the charities of their choice.
TCW is delighted to have been chosen by 3 individuals as their charity of choice. Our winners this year are Tom Steddall, William Lee and Jenny Stanley-Smith.
Tom will be working on the completion of the TCW Energy Hub – an online tool to help local authorities and community groups understand their energy consumption, costs and CO2 emissions.
“I am delighted to once again have this opportunity to work for the charity with whom I have become so involved over the last few years. This placement will allow me to continue our innovative work in online mapping of UK energy consumption.” Tom Stedall
William will be working with scout groups across Bristol to engage the scouts in TCW’s Global Citizens Programme. The programme aims to develop a network of young leaders and the learning and activities are centred around social and environmental themes.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity the WOD programme has given me to work with The Converging World promoting their work and educating young people about issues faced by their counter parts in South East Asia and how TCW are helping tackle issues of poverty through a sustainable approach.” William Lee
Jenny will be working on the Access to Affordable Energy Programme with a focus on solar PV. The Access to Affordable Energy Programme is our first village-scale renewable energy project. It aims to provide rural communities in Tamil Nadu, India with a reliable, affordable power source, helping to make them energy independent and more resilient.
“I'm over the moon that my application has got through and can't wait to start working with TCW. I know it's going to be an incredibly rewarding experience and look forward to learning lots and making an exciting project into a reality!” Jennifer Stanley-Smith
We will keep you up to date with the progress of these 3 projects here on our website and in our newsletter.
We are extremely lucky to have 3 new interns working with us on our Access to Affordable Energy Programme in Tamil Nadu, India.
Here you can 'meet' the new members of the team and read about them and their work.
I'm a full time Masters Engineering Design student at the University of Bristol and I first got involved with the Converging World at the beginning of November on a purely voluntary basis. I am on the committee of the Bristol Branch of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a student run organisation that works to remove barriers to development through engineering. My role in EWB this year is to set up partnerships with NGOs and Charities, one of these partnerships is now running with the Converging World where I lead a team of Engineers to work on projects for TCW. Through this partnership I got involved with the Access to Affordable Energy Programme and since January I have started an ethical internship sponsored by the University of Bristol to work on this project. My role as Programme Manager means I am responsible for overseeing the project which is looking into a number of different renewable energy technologies applicable to India. More recently I have been getting involved with the development of biomass and biogas technologies appropriate for a village scale application.
I'm a Masters student studying Physics at the University of Bristol, looking to work in the renewable energy and charitable sectors after I graduate. I also act as coordinator for the Bristol based food waste charity FoodCycle Bristol. At TCW I'm working as a Programme Manager for the Access to Affordable Energy project in Tamil Nadu and will be working as an intern with The Converging World over this summer. For this I'll be looking at a range of different renewable energy options for villages in the area and considering the best way to involve the local communities in the development work.
I graduated with a BSc in Economics from Bristol University in 2010 and, having realised an overriding interest in renewable energy, went on to join a local solar company where I coordinated overseas charity projects until 2012. My experience includes installing solar powered vaccine fridges in rural health posts in Ethiopia and writing on European research projects related to environmental and sustainability themes. I am fluent in Spanish and work as an independent translator, copy-editor and project manager.
I am working on the Access to Affordable Energy Programme with a focus on solar PV, which is very timely due to the current dynamic developments in the Indian solar industry. We have identified some potential partner organisations in India with established working models for community-level energy access that could link well with our own programme. We are now looking at refining the programme aims and establishing the delivery model(s) before forging ahead with partners on the ground and producing a definitive business plan.
On Sunday May 5th the TCW team will be taking part in the Bristol 10k race to raise vital money for turbines and to fund our inspiring programme of projects on the ground here in the UK and India.
We will keep you posted on our (much needed) training for the event and will share photos from the day.
You can support our efforts by making a donation here on this website or just text TCWZ01 followed by a space and the amount (£x) to 70070
To find out more about the race visit http://www.runbristol.com/10K/130/Home.aspx
We are delighted to report that our TCW Co Founder John Pontin OBE and Chief Executive Wendy Stephenson are amongst the 33 winners of this year’s prestigious Beacon Fellowship Awards.