Last year we entered the Federation’s Community Impact Awards and were very pleased that we did. Our Energy Champions Scheme won the award for the Greener Living category, gaining recognition for its success in recruiting and training residents as champions to help others improve their energy efficiency and save money.
Ana Mae Contreras Ramirez is Community and Neighbourhoods Area Coordinator at Poplar HARCA
9 June 2016
In making our submission we were able to demonstrate the impact the project had during the pilot phase of the project:
- 273 families were provided with energy saving packs and advice from the Energy Champions
- on average, each family who adopted the energy plan saved between £75 and £120 annually
- champions recruited were given new skills, gaining confidence and finding new opportunities for employment within the green energy-saving sector.
The Community Impact Awards judges that shortlisted our project for the award were impressed by our innovative approach, showing that effective change can be achieved on a small budget.
Certainly, the key to its success has been empowering residents to lead on behavioural change, with champions talking to other residents about ways they can save energy and reduce fuel bills. Judges commented that this resident-to-resident approach to engagement helps to ensure that residents who may be missed by traditional methods of engagement – such as residents for whom English isn’t their first language – also benefit.
Since our win, the success of our project has caught the attention of others. We’re delighted to have been asked to advise on a new Energy Champion project run by our partners, who are especially keen to see how we attracted volunteers from the local community. We’ve also been chosen by Hubbub - Fuelling Connections, to become one of their three national pilots, due to our success in engaging local residents.
The project continues to contribute towards a sustainable Poplar and as we take it forward we will be providing further opportunities for our Energy Champions to broaden their skills and employability in the sector.
So if you are thinking about entering the National Housing Federation’s Community Impact Awards this year, our advice is to go for it. You never know where it will take you.