Northern Gas Network (NGN) deliver gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire through their extensive underground pipe network. Between July and October 2022 BECG supported their Hydrogen Community project in Redcar, a trial to supply 2,000 homes in selected parts of the area with hydrogen instead of natural gas. The project is one of two hydrogen trials being undertaken in the UK, which Government will evaluate before deciding on future funding. If Government approves the full go head in 2025, the project could place Redcar as the centre of hydrogen innovation in the country.
How we assisted
Stakeholder and Community Engagement
BECG helped to shape the engagement style for each of these organisations and individuals identified by the project team: supporting in-person roundtable events, virtual briefings and written communications. Working alongside the Customer Care Officers who led the engagement with households, we ensured a robust communications strategy was delivered to the project timeline.
NGN has money allocated in their central business costs to distribute into ‘community funds’. These funds take place in select project areas, and allow third sector organisations and charities to apply to receive funding, to help them achieve their mission in the local community.
BECG was tasked with creating this £20,000 fund and working with NGN colleagues outside of the Redcar project team to deliver it. From conception of the name and branding, to the launch and eventual allocation of monies to charities, in a judging panel process which was designed and led by BECG.
We used our industry stakeholder expertise to advise on how to position the Redcar Hydrogen Community Fund to stimulate engagement from local charities and third sector organisations with the wider ambitions of the Redcar Hydrogen project: turning local orgaisations into advocates of hydrogen. As part of this work, BECG organised a Community Partner Roundtable, and forged relationships with local charities and third sector organisations. The Roundtable was also used to showcase wider partnership working across the Redcar area, being chaired by a prominent Cabinet Member of Redcar & Cleveland Council.
Launching the fund involved BECG rapidly assimilating into the wider NGN team, in order to deliver a number of deliverables in a seamless process for the fund launch and opening window: creating a website, verifying legal terms and conditions, collaborating with project team to ensure the terms of reference of the fund aligned with the wider Redcar Hydrogen Community goals and delivering a communications plan which involved tailored messaging across all channels at NGNs disposal.
Tracking and reporting
The communications strategy spanned a diverse array of interested parties for whom different levels and styles of communication were required. BECG created a custom stakeholder tracker and maintained a robust database, which clearly recorded all contact with all non-customer stakeholders.
The close monitoring and recording of this database was vital in ensuring the project team delivered their half-way engagement summary – a key deliverable to BEIS, as it decides on future funding from 2025 onwards.
BECG successfully delivered the Redcar Hydrogen Community Fund workstream, which resulted in £20,000 being allocated to local charities. The work engaging with community partners meant that 13 local charities became aware of the project, and subsequently have helped to inform ongoing public facing communications. The system of engagement monitoring which was put in place by BECG also ensured that information for the BEIS report was readily available.