Energy-saving drive in BS5

Increasing black minority ethnic (BME) engagement with energy efficiency services

Project duration: April 2004 to December 2004

Working in the Easton, Eastville and Barton Hill areas of Bristol (BS5), the overarching aim of the project was to increase black minority ethnic (BME) engagement with energy efficiency services in order to boost grant referrals and the installation of energy efficiency measures, thus reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions. The specific objectives were:

  • to consult with community groups on the best ways to adapt current advice methods so as to make them more accessible to those whose first language is not English
  • to pilot the adapted methods in the BS5 area of Bristol and to monitor their outcomes
  • to disseminate the findings of the project to other advice providers

The project ran from April to December 2004. Through the Bristol & Somerset Energy Efficiency Advice Centre, CSE worked with the partner organisations and a range of community groups and individuals in the area to assess the effectiveness of current methods of advice provision in BME communities. Based on this consultation process, current methods of advice-giving were adapted and new approaches were developed to suit a BME audience.

When focusing a project on the BME community it is important to carefully consider the time frame of the project and how it is to be branded. Getting this right is essential if the project is to be widely accepted within the community. As with all community work, working with BME communities can be a long and slow process and it is essential that enough time is available to build relationships with possible partners and for these meetings to be carried out face to face within the community setting.

Although this can be very time-consuming, the more standard methods of promoting a project via the phone and in writing appeared to have little impact. Also, it is very difficult to predict who the most successful relationships will be built with and thus it is essential that time is available to explore every opportunity. As with most community projects, a long time frame is also essential if actual carbon savings need to be calculated as it can take a long time for a project to reach the stage where it is generating a significant number of referrals to grant schemes for energy-saving measures.

The real benefit of this study for CSE has been that it has allowed the organisation to develop relationships and techniques that will be key to generating referrals to grant schemes from BME households in the future.

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