A good cooperative works to support the local community. This winter will be one of the toughest for many, particular for low-income households, due to energy price hikes.
That’s why members of Bristol Energy Cooperative have voted to provide £10,000 of financial support to Bristol Energy Network this winter. The money will be used by the community-centred organisation to help get advice and support to Bristol householders who are at risk of, or already experiencing fuel poverty.
A time of crisis
The winter energy crisis is a living nightmare for many in our community. New research shows that Bristol has a particularly high proportion of neighbourhoods where incomes are below average but energy use is high. 78 “energy crisis hotspots” have been identified in the city, impacting an estimated 50,700 households*.
Poorly insulated housing and an over-reliance on gas imports has left people vulnerable. Putin’s Ukraine invasion has vastly exacerbated the problem, but there’s no denying that government decisions over the past 10 years have left us exposed. The hardest hit are those living in the worst quality homes.
Bristol Energy Network taking action
Bristol Energy Network (BEN) works towards the shared vision of a city where clean, green, affordable energy is delivered to the community by the community. With over 10 years’ experience, they have witnessed the impacts of fuel poverty and leaky homes.
The network are running a range of projects across Bristol to help support our community this winter with the energy crisis. Some of the core ones include:
- BEN Energy Help Desk –the help desk delivers two different services. Firstly, there are face to face sessions directly with the public to share home energy information and learn from people what their concerns and individual experiences are. The second service is aimed at training up community and support staff, so that these community links can share energy advice across Bristol’s neighbourhoods. Staff learn how to help individuals to reduce their energy bills through small behavioural changes and minor DIY adjustments at home. They also cover information about financial support, and how to communicate with your energy company.
- Warm Up Skill Up – a community-led project aimed at improving energy efficiency in homes through practical training. The scheme teaches DIY low-cost energy efficiency measures such as insulation and draught-proofing, and helps to find grant money for larger improvements. The project starts and ends with a thermal study (‘Energy Trace’) to find out where heat is being lost and how well the improvements are working. The project is a partnership with Bristol City Council, Energy Tracers, and Re:Work, a charity working in Filwood and Knowle West.
- Keeping Warm this Winter – draught proofing workshops in targeted communities this winter in partnership with Re:Work.
- Bristol’s Emergency Winter Fuel Fund – BEN will be working once again with their community partners to relaunch and restructure the Bristol Emergency Winter Fuel Fund that ran during the pandemic. This fund will be reopening soon to raise money for those who are struggling with the soaring cost of living this winter. Please look out for the link soon if you feel you could donate something to your Bristol neighbours.
Levelling up through community benefit
The funds given to Bristol Energy Network support one of our core missions to “Fund and implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, in collaboration with people, communities and businesses”.
Our community benefit support is voted each year at our AGM by members of the cooperative.
It’s fantastic to see funds from our local renewable energy projects powering further action in the community. The largest chunk goes to our Megawatt Community Energy Fund, and we continue to provide money each year to Ambition Lawrence Weston as part of our partnering arrangement with the Lawrence Weston solar farm.
Read more about how the energy crisis is impacting the cooperative: https://bristolenergy.coop/how-has-the-energy-crisis-impacted-our-community-energy-group/
*More information on Bristol’s energy crisis hotspots here: https://thebristolcable.org/2022/08/research-reveals-bristol-neighbourhoods-at-risk-from-energy-crisis/