Youth Community Energy Catalysts

Young people strengthening the community energy movement

Project duration: March 2014 to April 2015

In partnership with the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC), CSE ran a community energy peer-mentoring project which aimed to increase young adults’ skills and understanding of sustainable energy for the benefit of the community energy movement. It was funded by the Office for Civil Society (part of the Cabinet Office) and the Social Investment Business (SIB).

[In July 2015, the Cabinet Office published a report 'Learning from the Community Energy Peer Mentoring Fund' which you can download here.]

The first phase of this project involved recruiting 20 young people (aged 18-29) and pairing them up with 20 mentors - experienced members of a community energy group, with shared interests and based in the same part of the country similar location as the young person they will mentor.

There were three ways that the young people would learn:

1) Through developing skills
To provide some expert input and training to the catalysts, we and UKYCC ran four whole-day seminars at our offices in Bristol.

  • Introduction to community energy (May 2014)
  • Community energy-saving and efficiency (July 2014)
  • Community renewables (August 2014)
  • Community energy and the planning system (September 2014)

In addition, between August and October 2014, we ran six one-hour webinars covering behaviour change, media and communications, managing community energy activities, fuel poverty, energy policy, and green open homes.

2) Through real-world experience (being mentored)

The project mentors supported the young people over the course of the year via monthly catch-ups (preferably in person), inviting them to their community energy group’s meetings and to pre-planned activities. Some funding was available to the mentors' community groups to cover their travel costs and some of their time; however, the expectation was that mentors would offer a little extra time for free as the young adult they are mentoring would make a real contribution to their community energy group’s activities. We also expected mentors to help shape the young peoples’ own projects.

3) Taking action: running their own projects
The young people involved in this project were expected to deliver their own activity or project during the winter of 2014/15. This might be one they came up with themselves, supported by their mentor and CSE or UKYCC, or it might be an one developed by CSE as a ‘project-in-a-box’ – in which all the guidance and materials needed to prepare, deliver and evaluate the activity were provided. Examples of projects included designing and running a workshop on e.g. draught-proofing or understanding energy billing; carrying out a basic energy audit or a renewable energy viability study; or even working on a renewable energy grant application, such as the Rural Community Energy Fund.

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