At Triodos, 2021 marked another year of challenges – for us and our customers – with the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus crisis. And yet, many of our lending and crowdfunding customers were able to maintain or grow their impact – taking positive steps forward in tackling environmental, social and cultural issues.   

To mark the end of the year, we asked a number of Triodos co-workers from around the business for their reflections on 2021. While we can’t include every story, we have brought together this small selection of moments – handpicked by the people that work for the bank – that have chimed with them personally.

Read on to hear their take on inspirational moments and memorable customers that connect them to Triodos Bank’s ethos.

Which project that Triodos financed has inspired you in 2021?

Mavric, senior relationship manager in the business banking team

The Triodos customer that has inspired me this year is Ruskin Mill Trust, more specifically Grace Garden School, which I visited in November. This school offers an education to young people between the ages of 9 and 16 with complex social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, including those with a diagnosis of autism and associated learning difficulties.

This beautiful facility is adjacent to the Blaise Castle Estate in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, on 18 acres of cultivated landscape. The school grounds are a haven of tranquillity and it literally feels like you are deep in the countryside surrounded by fields and animals, despite being on the outskirts of Bristol.

Grace Garden provides an outdoor learning approach focusing on experiential learning incorporating art, crafts, animal husbandry and growing of crops which is interwoven with the required outcomes of the National Curriculum. Young people develop holistically through a whole-person approach to education. At Triodos, we can be extremely proud to support an initiative to provide education of this standard to those that require extra care and time to allow them to grow into valued members of society.

Ruskin Mill Trust's Grace Garden School

Louise, office services team, who look after our Bristol head office

I have also been struck by the finance we’ve provided for Grace Garden School. My eldest daughter has complex needs and mainstream education doesn’t work for her, so I have a real understanding of the need for this kind of school. This is the first education provision that’s like this in Bristol, within easy reach, so having that facility for young people like my daughter is lifechanging – it supports such a broad range of people. 

Di, corporate finance manager, who works on the Triodos Crowdfunding website

This year, I’ve found particular inspiration from our work with Mama Bamboo – a company established and run by working mums on a mission to reduce plastic nappies from going to landfill. Laura, the founder and CEO, wants to make the planet a better place for her children, and I find that very moving! We raised £600,000 for Mama Bamboo through a share offer on the crowdfunding platform this summer.

I’ve also worked on our Trees for Life bond offer. We raised £2m for the conservation charity through the crowdfunding platform to help construct the world’s first rewilding visitor centre in the Highlands of Scotland. We raised the full amount in just two days, which was amazing, and it was heart-warming to see our Triodos investors are so passionate about rewilding. I was lucky enough to visit the Dundreggan Estate in November, where the charity has planted over 335,000 native trees and where the visitor centre is being built.

Corporate finance manager Di (right) at the Dundreggan Estate in November with Trees for Life

Is there a moment that has inspired you this year?

Ellen, corporate projects manager

I was really struck by this year’s Triodos Annual Meeting, which took place in April. It was inspiring to hear from such a range of customers – community energy pioneer Low Carbon Hub, electric transport company Ember and social enterprise Cafédirect – about how the pandemic affected them and how, despite this, they keep driving change forward. I also loved hearing from climate activist Mya Rose-Craig – it’s important for us to keep in mind the connection between environmental and social justice as we move forward into 2022.

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Jonathan, finance analyst

One of the moments that I found most inspiring was when Mohamed Ali spoke at an all-company meeting this autumn. He shared his story of the journey that would eventually lead him to embark on multiple entrepreneurial projects, including working with social enterprise Babbasa. His story particularly piqued my interest, as Mohamed and I share similar experiences on immigrating to the UK. It was amazing to see how he has made the most out of his life here and how he is allowing others from disadvantaged backgrounds to so the same.

Di, corporate finance manager

Some of Triodos’s activity at COP26 in Glasgow centred around our partnership with WWF - a charity that I'm personally close to, having completed a fundraising hike for them earlier this year. At COP, the bank was involved with the first in-person screening of the 'Our Planet: Too Big to Fail' documentary created by WWF and Silverback Films, which addresses the finance sector and its role in tackling the climate and nature crisis. To know that sustainable finance was making waves at COP26 was certainly a proud moment too.

Ellen (centre) and Triodos co-workers at COP26 in Glasgow

Read more about the impactful customers we support

We believe banks should be open – that’s why we publish details of every organisation we lend to. We’re proud to finance inspiring businesses and charities, and want to show you the impact your money is having. Together we’re building a more sustainable society. See who we're financing near you and around the UK.

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