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What it’s like to volunteer with CSE — Lucy’s story

Headshot of a woman smiling.
6 February 2024

Thinking about volunteering with CSE? Here, Lucy shares what it’s like to volunteer with us.

Our amazing team of volunteers provide crucial support across all areas of our work at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), from giving energy advice to running community events. Our work to tackle the climate emergency and end the suffering caused by cold homes couldn’t happen without them.

If you’re passionate about climate change or supporting vulnerable members of the community, volunteering with CSE is a great way to meet new people, learn about sustainable energy and gain experience in different work areas. We even offer dedicated volunteers the opportunity to complete a fully funded City & Guilds qualification in Energy Awareness.

We’re sharing volunteer’s stories so that you can learn more about what it’s like to volunteer at CSE. Here, Lucy speaks about her experiences …

How long have you been volunteering at CSE?

I’ve been part of the team for just over a year now – I started in October 2022.

What made you get involved?

I was looking for a regular volunteer role, as I’m thinking about going back to work and it’s a great way to get experience. I came across the CSE website, and thought, “This looks like a great organisation!” So, I wrote in, and here I am!

I knew I wanted to do something related to sustainability in the charity sector. My son is doing a degree in renewable energy engineering and seeing what he’s been working on has really sparked my interest in that area. I wanted to learn more about it, so I can be in a position to do something about it because at the moment I think many of us are feeling very helpless about climate change.

Volunteering here has helped with that feeling – I’ve learned so much already, especially about saving energy to reduce carbon emissions. I had the opportunity to do the City and Guilds Energy Awareness training which was very interesting – I now use many of the things I learned on the course in my own home.

What about CSE made you want to volunteer here?

CSE works in so many different areas – research, community projects, home energy, retrofit – there are so many different strands! I was drawn to that variety and the balance between working to address fuel poverty and tackling climate change. At the end of the day, it’s about helping people in whatever way they need it.

CSE has also been around for quite a long time – since 1979. It’s a very established organisation and has proved its worth, so it seemed like a great place to learn.

What do you do as a volunteer?

I knew I wanted a regular commitment, so I started off coming into the office every Tuesday morning, which I’ve increased now to a full day.  

Initially I was involved with the Household Energy Services team, who support people living in fuel poverty. I helped to sign people up for the Priority Services Register, a scheme offered by fuel suppliers to make sure people in vulnerable circumstances get extra support during power or water outages. I also did some admin support for WHAM – the warmer homes, advice and money scheme. It’s been a good opportunity to refresh my admin skills and develop some new ones – great for when I apply for jobs in the future.

Since last February, I’ve been working with Wessex Community Energy Network (WCEN) through CSE’s Local and Community Empowerment (LACE) team. WCEN is a network of community energy groups, all run by volunteers. I organise their quarterly meetings and send out a regular newsletter. The network covers a large area over several counties, so it’s important for the groups to have opportunities to connect and share their experiences. The support we give them means they can come together to learn more, network, and essentially achieve more by working together.

What does a typical volunteering session look like?

I come into the CSE office in central Bristol. What I do really differs from week to week – sometimes I’m planning and organising the next community energy network meeting or seeking content for the newsletter, and sometimes I’m doing database updates for the Household Energy Services team.

I like coming into the office – it’s a nice environment, friendly and relaxed. And the coffee’s good!

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering with CSE?

I have two!

Firstly, I love feeling part of an organisation that’s doing meaningful work.

And secondly, the people here are just amazing!

And what’s your least favourite thing?

It’s difficult to get the balance right between working and volunteering. It’s tricky because I feel so involved in the work I do, but I’m only here one day a week. It’s hard to say no to things, but I need to know where to draw the line, so I don’t take on too much.

What would you say to somebody who was thinking about volunteering with CSE?

Don’t hesitate! It’s such a friendly environment and there are opportunities to get involved in a huge variety of projects. And don’t worry if you feel you don’t know enough – there’s lots of support and training available.

Would you like to volunteer with CSE?

Check out our latest vacancies:

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