CSE project marks a decade of helping Bristol residents

Bristol Energy Action Network celebrates tenth anniversary

2 December 2010

One of CSE’s longest-running advice projects, the Bristol Energy Action Network (BEAN), celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Launched in 2000 the project’s aim continues to be to address fuel poverty and promote affordable and sustainable energy use across the Bristol area through awareness-raising, networking, training and the promotion of the City Council’s insulation grant scheme, also managed by CSE, known as the Bristol Energy Efficiency Scheme (BEES).

“The figures speak for themselves,” said Bridget Newbery, who manages the BEAN project on behalf of CSE. “Over the course of the last decade, we reckon we’ve offered advice to tens of thousands of households in Bristol and beyond, and will continue to do so.”

Since its launch BEAN has been represented at more than 65 public events, including large gatherings with national profile like the Festival of Nature, the kite festival and the St Pauls Carnival along with local events like landlords’ expos and farmers’ markets – and spoken to almost 5,500 people in the process.

More than 300 local employees have found out more about energy efficiency through BEAN, too, with recent events being held at Airbus, University Hospitals, the TUC Green Workplaces conference and Horfield Prison. These work-place sessions can reach hundreds of staff and have been found to be very effective. Following an event at Avon Fire & Rescue one employee commented that “energy efficiency has been the talk of the office this afternoon, with many colleagues planning to make changes when they get home tonight”.

A significant element of the project is in-depth homes visits, offered to particularly vulnerable householders suffering from a range of issues such as high bills, fuel debt, damp and condensation, billing issues and a lack of energy awareness.

BEAN has also worked closely with local organisations to train over 500 frontline and support workers, to help them provide general energy efficiency advice and to identify people in, or at risk of fuel poverty. A few of the organisations we’ve worked with include Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators, Policy Community Support Officers, Age Concern, Bristol City Council and Rethink. We’re hoping to deliver a series of sessions to NHS staff in 2011.

In addition BEAN’s advisors have delivered presentations to more than 1,200 people across Bristol.

But as the project marks its tenth anniversary, advisors won’t be resting on their laurels. Instead, they have been busy lining up more outreach continuing the focus on wards with a high number of households in fuel poverty – including Easton, Avonmouth, Ashley, Knowle and Whitchurch.

CSE’s Head of Advice, Education and Community Initiatives, Sarah Jeffrey, is in no doubt as to the benefits that BEAN has delivered, particularly to the more vulnerable householders in Bristol. "BEAN is effectively an 'extra' service running alongside our more mainstream energy advice work. And this often makes the difference between someone simply receiving advice, and he or she going the extra mile and getting their loft insulated or draft-proofing their front door, for example."

Click here for more about the Bristol Energy Efficiency Scheme.

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