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Awards 2024
ECOE 6 July2024 07

Cumberland foster families enjoy hands on engineering day with Sellafield

FOSTER families from across Cumberland headed to Cleator Moor for a fun-filled day of engineering and craft activities with staff from Sellafield Ltd.

More than 40 young people aged between 4 and 16 and their carers took part in the event on Saturday (July 6), which saw them make and fire paper rockets, operate small robotic dogs, programme mice, operate a drone simulator, and try their hand at virtual reality-based games.

The day was organised and coordinated by Claire O’Connor and the team from the Engineering Centre of Excellence, who worked closely with Cumberland Council to ensure the day catered for everyone attending.

This event reinforced the commitment of the Engineering Centre of Excellence to promoting inclusivity and sparking passion for engineering through hands-on activities. These experiences aim to showcase the breadth of possibilities within the engineering field and highlight that careers at Sellafield are open to everyone.

Claire O'Connor, Socio-Economic Lead at the Leconfield site, changed the day up a bit this year by inviting the families and carers of the cared-for children. She said: “We want to make these events as inclusive as possible and are always coming up with new ideas to try and make these days as successful as they can be.

“This year, we thought we’d invite everyone who helps look after the children, to give them the opportunity to build some memories together. As well as our engineering-based activities, we broadened the offering to include a wide range of crafts and other games like a giant Operation table and also arranged for an ice cream van to come. Judging by the volume of laughter, I think we can say it was a hit!”

Sellafield Ltd CEO, Euan Hutton, and his family also popped down to the ECOE to speak to colleagues volunteering their Saturdays to run the event and engage with the families enjoying the day.

Mr Hutton said: “It’s a really fantastic event, giving these young people the opportunity to see some of the things we do at Sellafield and a sense of what engineering is all about.

“I really hope some of those who came will come back and get involved with us. It has given them an opportunity to see us beyond the gates, and one of my desires is to give more opportunities like this to those who are harder to reach.

“Careers with us are open to everyone. The staff coming in on a Saturday to make this happen are really inspiring; they’ve all really got into the spirit of the day, and it makes all the difference.”

Margaret James is a special guardian of two siblings aged 11 and 12 who attended the event. She said: “It’s fantastic; there were so many opportunities to have a go at doing things they don’t normally get the chance to try at home or at school. They’ve just been allowed to go from one activity to another, have some independence, and find what they enjoy.

“They came last year and loved it, so when we said they could come again, they jumped at the chance. The staff are brilliant and wonderful with the children. They really engage, and the children love that; they make them think too. To be able to share the day with them this year has been really special.”

In order to make sure the day has something for everyone, the ECOE team works closely with Cumberland Council, who also support the families on the day. Deputy Leader and lead member for Children’s Services, Cllr Emma Williamson, was there on Saturday.

She said: “It’s a really excellent programme to open the world of engineering and culture up to these children. They get to try new skills that give them aspiration, which we hope will encourage them to try new things and realise that every career is open to them. I’ve been impressed with the variety this year, and it’s not as structured, so the young people have had the freedom to do what they want to do. They're having a go at everything, and they’re loving it.”

For more information about Sellafield Ltd's Engineering Centre of Excellence and its community initiatives, please contact claire.l.oconnor@sellafieldsites.com.