Keeping Northern Ireland beautiful
Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful takes NI Business Now through an average day in his role.
It is 06:50 and the alarm rouses me out of bed. Emails and texts are checked on my phone over breakfast and urgent things dealt with. Love them or hate them, smart phones mean I am much less reliant on the computer than I used to be. Around 8am I am sitting at my desk, at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s offices in Belfast, starting to go through the days tasks. I have been CEO here since 2008.
Between 8am and 9am is relatively quiet and I proof read the latest NI Litter Survey report. It shows badly littered streets are on the rise; not good news for all the dedicated Council street cleaning staff I pass each morning on the way to work. I also spend some time working on the new Live Here Love Here project that we have launched encouraging people to embrace their civic pride and drive behavioural change and empower the wider community. Live Here Love Here is very much the public’s campaign and we want them to pledge their support. The campaign aims to bring about the positive changes we all want to see in our communities. Working together we hope to achieve cleaner streets; reduce dog fouling; chewing gum and graffiti; improve use of derelict buildings and see the careful development of greenspace. Together we can build that sense of civic responsibility and community pride that will make our neighbourhoods so much better.
I book flights to the European Litter Prevention Association Board meeting in Brussels and write a letter to the Environment Minister inviting him to present our Coast Care Awards, which reward and celebrate the voluntary effort of thousands of people who help clean up litter from around our shores.
At 9am our team meeting begins. We are an ambitious lot, wanting to change the behaviour of everyone living in Northern Ireland. Yes, we want less littering, less dog fouling and better resource efficiency but what we really think will make it all come together is growing a strong sense of community pride. We believe we can make this happen and know it will benefit the economy as well as society and the environment.
Then at 10am I jump in the car and head off to a primary school near Omagh. Once there I help assess their work and am delighted to award the school with the Eco-Schools international green flag. This is the highlight of the day for me – a rare excursion to see the fruits of a fantastic programme, which at 20 years old involves every school in Northern Ireland which is a great achievement. Meeting the earnest enthusiastic pupils and their hugely committed teachers, who show me what they have done to help biodiversity, increase recycling rates and reduce energy usage, is always inspiring and reminds me of why I love this job.
After a drive back to the desk I write an application for funding to support our new Adopt a Spot programme. Fundraising is one of my most important roles and success here is crucial to being able to deliver on our charitable objectives. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful works to inspire people to create cleaner, greener and more sustainable communities but without sufficient resources this is just a dream.
I catch up on phone calls to a corporate sponsor and a local Council that is participating in the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards. I also get a call from Common Purpose asking if I will help with one of their management development courses and quickly agree. Last year I hugely benefited from this programme and am keen to give something back.
At 6pm I am heading home and enjoy dinner with my wife and two of our three children (the third is away at University). Often there is more to write and read for work but tonight the laptop stays in my bag and I enjoy a competitive game of chess with my Son, watch some TV and then read a chapter of my current book, Sapiens, before lights out at 10.30.