Prof Danielle George MBE FIET is a Professor of radio frequency engineering and Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning at the University of Manchester. Danielle became the President of the IET in October 2020.
It takes a village. We often use these words to reflect the contributions of everyone who had a hand in making something extraordinary happen. But I think this is particularly true of engineering. That’s why I was really interested to find out more about the work of Foothold, the charity supporting engineers, including IET members and their families.
Supporting and empowering engineers
Foothold’s mission is to make sure no engineer or their family needs to face life’s challenges without support – personal or professional. I recently attended a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Foothold, the benevolent fund of the IET. It was a pleasure to (virtually) meet some of the staff and volunteers who work to support the engineering community, including current and former members of IET and their families worldwide. And it was interesting to find out more about the work the team does to reach those who may need a bit of support. I was surprised by how many younger people were supported. Previously, I had wrongly assumed it was mainly for retired engineers.
Foothold’s role in the engineering community is one of support and empowerment. This has been vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, Foothold helped over 1400 people. They provided almost £1.4M in financial grants, legal and career help, counselling, care and disability support and other services. It’s easy to see why the team is so passionate about the work they do. More recently, they’ve launched a wellbeing hub for engineers who want to want to improve the way they feel, work and live. Isn’t that most of us?
Working towards common goals
During my visit, I also had an opportunity to share the plans for IET’s 150th anniversary activities and talk to the team about how Foothold may be a part of the celebrations. Not least because 2020 marked the 130th anniversary of the founding of Foothold. I set the challenge to Foothold and the IET on how together we can best support our common goals.
It is a great time to re-establish our shared commitment of working to improve the lives of engineers. Because every engineer deserves to know they have the support of their community behind them. They could be 6 years old and building Lego bridges, or 86 and teaching others to build real ones. And this is as true now, as it will be in another 150 years.
If you or your partner is a current or former IET member, and you could use financial, practical or emotional support, get in touch with Foothold today.