Building community resilience through energy
6th December 2022
Eastside Community Trust will be working to improve Easton and Lawrence Hill’s resilience to more extreme temperatures and rising energy costs for their three-year community climate action demonstrator project. Learn more about their plans from Emily Fifield, Eastside’s Community Climate Action lead.
Eastside Community Trust is excited to launch our “Eastside People Power” demonstrator project, working with residents and local leaders to improve the energy efficiency of Easton and Lawrence Hill’s homes and buildings. The project will help equip our community with the tools we need to reduce our bills and carbon emissions from the energy we use to heat our homes and run our buildings. It will also help prepare our community for the impacts of climate change, including more extreme weather and rising prices.
Supporting residents to save energy
The cost of living crisis is already hitting our community hard, and skyrocketing energy prices have local households, organisations and businesses struggling to keep the power on as we enter the cold winter months. Even before recent price increases, we heard from residents while creating our community climate action plan that warm homes and affordable heating and electric bills were some of their top priorities, alongside concerns about the impacts of rising prices, hotter summers and colder winters.
To help address these urgent needs, we’re offering regular energy advice sessions with Bristol Energy Network as part of our Welcoming Space in Easton Community Centre, making sure people know what support is available and how to access it, and sharing tips about simple, inexpensive things we can do to use energy wisely and lose less heat from our homes this winter.
We’re running DIY draught excluder sewing sessions, loaning out plug-in energy meters to help people understand what appliances use the most (and least) energy in their homes, and getting information out as widely as possible through all our networks and channels, including an energy special in the Winter edition of Up Our Street magazine, delivered to every household in Easton and Lawrence Hill. Eastside is also working with Bristol Energy Network and community partners across the city to fundraise and distribute emergency funds for people struggling to pay their energy bills this winter through the Bristol Emergency Winter Fuel Fund crowdfunder.*
Retrofit and resilience
This immediate support is critical to making sure we all get through the winter together, but our Eastside People Power demonstrator project will also be working to move toward longer-term solutions that will make us better prepared for future challenges and opportunities.
Over the next three years, Eastside will be drawing on the expertise, experience, and connections of community energy pioneer Bristol Energy Network to pilot and scale programmes around household and community building retrofit. We will be training up local energy champions through their Warm Up Skill Up home retrofit training programme, developing local skills around DIY energy measures and demystifying the whole home retrofit process, and working with residents to spread this knowledge across our community. Additional technical training will help us build a trusted base of local handypeople equipped with the skills to do lower cost retrofit and draughtproofing in homes.
Eastside People Power will also work with local organisations and faith groups to develop resilience hubs – safe, welcoming places where local people can go to connect and access reliable information on energy and climate. As a first step, we will be working to reduce the energy costs of these community buildings to ensure they can keep their doors open and continue providing vital services in the community.
It’s not just about the what of improving energy efficiency of homes and buildings, though – how we go about doing it is just as important for community climate action and resilience. At its foundations, this project is about developing and highlighting diverse local climate leadership, building strong networks across our community within the context of climate and making sure everyone in our community has the information they need to make informed decisions and access opportunities as part of a just transition.
* The Bristol Emergency Winter Fuel Fund crowdfunder is now live. If you’re able, please consider giving a little (or a lot if you can) to the fund, maybe passing on your £66 monthly Energy Bill Support Scheme payment to others who could use the extra boost. To give, please visit justgiving.com/campaign/bristolemergencywinterfuelfund
Watch this short video to hear why Emily thinks community-led climate action is important, and what she is most excited about phase 2 of the Community Climate Action Project.