This festive season, Veolia in partnership with New West End Company (NWEC) and Westminster City Council present The Giving Bear – a life-size light sculpture of a polar bear, made from reused plastic bottles. Symbolising important messages on climate change and homelessness, the installation will be displayed in Westminster’s Mount Street Gardens, from 9 December 2019 to 6 January 2020.
The Giving Bear has been created by students from Kingston School of Art’s Creative Industries. Developing an engaging narrative about the bear’s journey, the students incorporated themes of environmental awareness and vulnerability into the design. Using upcycled wood and over 3,000 plastic milk bottles, they turned the story into a stunning reality.
The Giving Bear illustrates the story of a polar bear who loses his home as a result of climate change. Finding himself homeless in London’s Mount Street Gardens, he encounters unexpected kindness through a small gift that reminds him of home.
Beside the installation is a “tap donation” point. Visitors can use the fixed £3 tap point to give a gift to the Hidden Network, a group of charities who work with Westminster City Council to end rough sleeping. All of the money raised will support their work to help those affected in the city. This partnership is close to the hearts of Veolia and NWEC, and contributes to Veolia’s ongoing commitment to reduce homelessness through its return-to-work programme, Road to Work, launched in 2017.
Helder Branco, Senior Contract Manager for Veolia, said: “The Giving Bear stands for the positive impact that can be achieved through kindness, community spirit and recycling. I hope the beautiful bear can capture the hearts of all of its visitors, reminding them that being mindful of the planet and all of the beings populating it is important. We will all generate more waste than usual over the festive season, so we’re asking people to consider their waste consumption more closely, and to give to those in need if they can.”
Bruna Silva, Environment & Operations Manager for New West End Company, said: “We are delighted to be part of The Giving Bear installation in Mount Street Gardens. While Christmas is an exciting time of year, it is also a time of giving and thinking of others, so we hope the bear brings joy to visitors and helps those less fortunate in the city, whilst highlighting the ability to repurpose waste. Sustainability and homelessness are key to managing a top shopping and leisure district and are priorities for New West End Company over Christmas and beyond.”
Sara Sutton, Westminster City Council Executive Director of City Management & Communities, said “This inspiring installation highlights the most important challenges we face in Westminster. We hope that The Giving Bear can bring everyone together to help end rough sleeping by supporting our network of hidden heroes and to emphasise the part we can all play in reducing our impact on the environment by recycling more this festive season.”