Walkers is firmly committed to the long-term development of the local communities in which we are based and our CSR partner for Ireland, Brendan O'Brien, often tells me that he is "Always struck by the level of pride that our people take in our active involvement in a wide range of community projects." While some of these projects involve financial assistance, in the main….. what really drives the success of our community programme and the many initiatives chosen by our team members, is the active and real engagement by our people and by Walkers leadership. Throughout the year Walkers supports on average, over 50 charities, non-profit and community initiatives globally. Across these programmes, our people have a particular commitment to supporting youth, the arts, health, education, conservation, heritage and sport.
Since joining Walkers, I have been taken by one community project which is the "Walkers Photographer-in-Residence" programme with visual artist Kate Nolan and CBS Westland Row. I was delighted to learn that this programme has been shortlisted in the Allianz 2019 Business to Arts Awards under the Best Staff Creative Engagement category. The Judging panel, Chaired by Arthur Cox Partner, Rachel Hussey, specifically recognised Walkers for the innovative and mutually beneficial collaborative work with Kate Nolan and CBS Westland Row together with our people.
To date, 2 years of a 3-year partnership with visual artist, Kate Nolan have taken place and during that time, the residency has centred on staff engagement as well as supporting the Arts while collaborating with the local community. Walkers is very proud that this initiative marks the first time that a business in Ireland has engaged a Photographer-in-Residence programme with Business to Arts and Dublin City Council. As a long-term resident in the Docklands area, Walkers has been delighted to engage in creativity with our people and with young students while supporting the development of their photography, collaboration and creativity skills. We are looking forward to the 2019 – 2020 penultimate year of the programme which will see a new body of work created on the Docklands area, influenced by the perspectives of people living, working and studying in this community.
The partnership overall has enabled Walkers Ireland to create unique moments of perspective for all stakeholders including with our own business and legal professionals creating an impact on the students and the artist and with the artist and students equally influencing our professionals. Shared experiences and the development of creative photography skills have taken place through moments of collaboration during several workshops both onsite in our IFSC based offices and in offsite locations such as the RHA, The Photography Gallery, as well as via student-led Docklands 'Story Walks' focused on the themes of 'Work, play and community or neighborhood.' Feedback from both the students and the staff that participated in the programme has been overwhelmingly positive and overall this programme has enabled an enriching experience for Walkers people working in the Docklands, for CBS Westland Row students being educated locally and for our Photographer-in-Residence, Kate Nolan. Sincere thanks also to our own Walkers Business to Arts internal committee who have been the driving force behind the programme – Eoin O'Connor, Lucy Deane, Michelle Hurley and Andrew Hegarty.