Islington charity boss helps third world on renewable energy

Neil Jeffery (right) with Gethin Jones in Nepal

Neil Jeffery (right) with Gethin Jones in Nepal - Credit: Archant

Neil Jeffery’s current home in a picturesque Islington street is worlds away from some of the places he has lived during his career.

The 44 year-old, whose background is in human rights and conflict, has worked in the developing world for over 20 years, living in Colombia and Guatemala during periods of intense conflict.

He witnessed unimaginable horrors, which in part inspired him to take on his role as the CEO of Renewable World in order to make an impact on how charities help Third World countries.

The Thornhill Crescent resident said: “My work gives me a huge amount of meaning in my life, an enormous sense of pride and a real sense of achievement. I love it, absolutely love it.”

Renewable World is a charity that helps to provide deprived communities with electricity and energy they would otherwise have no access to, through the setting up of micro-businesses.

Mr Jeffery said the most amazing part was seeing the impact the work has on the people on the ground.

“For me the most fascinating thing is seeing those little changes in how those people feel they can take control of their lives,” he said.

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A man in Mozambique stuck in his mind. Initially sceptical of how renewable energy could be set up within his community, he was hugely enthusiastic once he understood the project was feasible.

“When I came back to Mozambique he was just dancing up and down” Mr Jeffery recalled. “He just twigged that you could get energy from this thing.

“For him previously it had been absolutely alien and then he understood that if he worked hard his family and his community would be all right.”

Mr Jeffery believes that the most important thing Renewable World does is allowing these communities to help themselves, adding: “However poor people can appear, if you can manage to give them an ability to improve their own lives, then that is the biggest gift you can give them.”

Mr Jeffery is involved in helping to produce a BBC Lifeline Appeal in Nepal with celebrity Gethin Jones.

He hopes it will get across the message of what Renewable World does, and encourage the public to support them.

A crew joined them to film a documentary about the work, which includes helping poor farming communities grow extra crops, sending youngsters to school and ensuring their water supply is reliable and clean.

Mr Jeffery added: “It will show how we deliver renewable energy services to meet basic needs, including clean cooking and lighting, drinking water and sanitation.

“The film explains how renewable energy is used to increase incomes and helps people to work their way out of poverty.”

n The BBC appeal will run from until March 16. Information about Renewable World at Jeffery