How we impacted our community with award

Cornwall-based Community Energy Plus gained the runner-up prize of £7,500 in last year’s Energy Impact Award.

The awards recognise projects focusing on energy and tackling fuel poverty, by benefiting vulnerable people. They are open to community groups, charities, and other third sector organisations, in England, Scotland and Wales.

Here Laura Tregonning, Project Manager, tells us about their experience.

The Energy Impact Awards, funded by British Gas and NEA, have helped to put the national spotlight on our project.

While energy bills are one of a household’s largest expenses, many people are disengaged with how much energy they use, how much it costs and what they can do make their energy bills more affordable.

All too often, many of the people who have the most to gain from our charity’s services have reached crisis point by the time they seek our help. Through our Energy Fit Kitchens project, we took an innovative approach to equipping low income families with the life skills in home energy management to help them take control of their energy bills and enjoy warmer, healthier homes.

The premise of our project was simple but effective – we used slow cooking workshops as the hook to get people who might not otherwise be interested in receiving energy advice to come along to a half day cooking event.

As well as receiving a free slow cooker and the ingredients to make a low-cost yet tasty meal for their family, each participant learnt how small changes around their home can add up to big savings on their energy bills. We explained the ease and benefits of tariff switching and equipped people with the confidence and skills to switch tariffs and payment methods in order to unlock significant savings on their energy bills. Information about the Warm Homes Discount scheme, grants for energy efficient home improvements and help available through Community Energy Plus and our partners were also covered in the workshops.

Feedback collected from the pilot project’s participants clearly demonstrated the value of delivering, energy awareness training in this unconventional format.

Our Energy Fit Kitchens pilot, funded in 2015 by the ScottishPower Energy People Trust, enabled us to work with 611 low income families though 36 events across Cornwall. Thanks to the funding provided by Energy Impact Awards, we have been able to deliver 5 additional workshops and support an additional 74 low income families. We have built on the achievements and learnings from the pilot and have taken the project in a new direction, trialling a more holistic approach of working with parents and their children to encourage entire families to cook and save energy together.

We have been delighted to share our experiences with organisations in other parts of the country who have embarked on their own energy efficient slow cooking projects. We continue to look for future funding opportunities to extend and develop our ideas around the slow cooking concept. In the meantime, I hope that one of our project’s lasting legacies will be the spotlight that it has placed on using an enjoyable group activity to make energy awareness a relevant and engaging life skill for those who have the most to gain from reducing their energy bills.

By Laura Tregonning, Project Manager, Community Energy Plus

Please note that the awards will no longer be open to submissions from close of play on 19/05/2017

A little girl learns about energy at one of the Energy Fit Kitchens sessions.

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