At the AGM in October 2019 it was agreed by members that £3,000 should be made available for community benefit projects within the voluntary, community and faith sector which have a focus on renewable energy and/or increasing energy efficiency and reducing waste.
With the support of Joanne Stanton at Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CVA) information about the availability of the fund was emailed to a large number of organisations.
Six applications were received and in January 2020 the Community Benefit Fund Panel, consisting of Graham Booth, Julie Savory and Sue Steeland, shortlisted the applications using criteria which looked at energy saving potential of the proposed projects and the social purpose of the organisation. Three projects were shortlisted:
- Stanney Grange Community Centre, Ellesmere Port – new LED lighting for the whole building
- Grozone Community Garden Project in Northwich – off grid solar PV system to run lighting and charge small appliances
- Hospice of the Good Shepherd, Backford – LED lighting to replace the halogen lights in the inpatient unit which operates 24/7
In early February the shortlisted applicants met with the Panel to discuss their proposed projects and to share ideas with the other shortlisted applicants about energy saving measures and sources of funding.
The decision of the Panel was to award £1,900 to Stanney Grange Community Centre and £1,100 to Grozone.
The Hospice of the Good Shepherd was seen to be a good candidate for the Chester for Community Energy LED lighting project, supported by a grant from Power to Change. The scheme provides guidance and support to organisations which can achieve significant energy reduction and cost savings from having LED lighting installed. Chester Community Energy installs the new lighting with funds raised from a recent share offer, and repayments are made by the client organisation using the savings from the more efficient lighting.
Cheques were presented to the successful organisations on the 13th February 2020.
Upon being presented with the cheque for £1,900 Joan Evans, Stanney Grange Committee member, said “ This grant will benefit all the community groups that use Stanney Grange as by becoming more energy efficient we can ensure the price for renting rooms is kept at an affordable level”
Our other recipients – Grozone Community Garden, in Northwich were also jubilant: “Grozone staff and volunteers are committed to living as sustainably as possible, and showcasing sustainable initiatives to volunteers and visitors and the wider community. This award will make a huge difference by increasing our capacity to generate renewable energy, while also increasing safety for all our visitors. The money will go towards a new solar panel system – which will provide lighting, allow us to charge cordless tools, use hand blenders in our kitchen and use gardening and construction tools in our new workshop.” as said by Andy Martin, their project manager.