Community energy group raises £100k in Covid-19 support

CfR says the move shows how the community ownership model helps build local resilience

Communities for Renewables (CfR) , a collective of local energy enterprises, have between them mobilised £100,000 of Corona Crisis Funds to support those facing hardship in their communities.

As community-owned enterprises, they were able to mobilise funds to support community-organised aid networks. The Corona Crisis Funds were distributed from surpluses generated by community-owned solar arrays. CfR says this shows how how local ownership of energy (and other infrastructure) can help communities be more resilient.

Selsey and Sidlesham’s Ferry Farm Community Solar has allocated £40,000 to support organisations helping those in the local community facing hardship. Funding is urgently needed for a rapidly mobilised community support network and the households they are helping. Three initial awards totaling £17,500 have been made in the first week of the lock down:

  • On the day the schools were shut down, a donation of £1,500 was made to the Academy Selsey to pay for a subscription to an online library to enable students to access contemporary reading materials whilst stuck at home.
  • £6,000 has been provided to Selsey Community Forum, who are co-ordinating the Corvid Mutual Aid network for Sesley and Sidlesham. £1,000 of this is to contribute to the cost of running the network and £5,000 is an initial contribution to a crisis fund for families facing financial difficulty. This funding will be provided directly to families in need to cover short-term crisis cash needs.
  • £10,000 has been allocated to Chichester Food Bank to support its operation in Selsey and Sidlesham.

Gawcott and Buckingham’s Gawcott Solar CIC has allocated £14,000 to a Corona Crisis Fund. Two donations have been made in the first week of the lock down:

  • £2,500 to Buckingham Food Bank to help provide emergency food to local families in crisis.
  • £747 to YC2 Buckingham& Winslow Young Carers for gift vouchers to cheer up 55 young carers looking after family members at home.

“We are so grateful to Gawcott Community Solar for their amazing donation. This will ensure the elderly and vulnerable as well as others in crisis as a result of this epidemic can be provided with emergency food parcels when needed,” said Keith Croxton, Buckingham Food Bank.

National Energy Foundation, who manage Gawcott Solar CIC’s Bee Warm energy advice service are focussing their efforts on helping local households in financial hardship deal with energy company issues including offering pre-pay meter vouchers.

Burnham and Weston Energy CIC have allocated £40,000 to a Corona Crisis fund and are liaising with local community networks and Somerset Community Foundation, who manage their community fund, to understand where they can be most useful.

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy are allocating some of their community funds to support local Food Banks.

Jake Burnyeat, director of CfR, said: ‘These rapidly deployed Corona Crisis Funds show the real value of communities having their own local energy enterprises: generating funds to deploy for the benefit of local communities as needs arise.

“In the first week of the lockdown just four local energy enterprises have between them been able to mobilise £100,000 to help their communities respond to a crisis which has come out of the blue. Hopefully next year, they will return to their longer-term purpose of supporting their communities’ net zero transition and tackling fuel poverty, but at present there is no greater need and no better way for the surplus funds to help people in their locality.

Other community energy enterprises are mobilising similar crisis funds and support. If every town had a community energy enterprise that story could be repeated across the UK – something to bear in mind as the we plan our new zero carbon energy future.’

CfR is a Cornwall-based community interest company which helps communities across the UK to set up local energy enterprises and works with them to develop, finance and manage their own renewable energy generation. 

Since setting up in 2012, it has worked with local energy enterprises in over 30 localities from villages to cities to help deliver over 35MW of community solar from school roofs to one of the largest community solar farms in the UK. CfR has supported the financing of community solar projects with a capital value of £56m and our company and asset management team looks after 50MWp of community solar across seven localities. Over their operational lives, these projects are projected to generate around £20m of surplus income to support community projects in their localities. 

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