Our new online tool for communities

Author: Alexandra Steeland 10/03/2015

Understanding the importance of community engagement in principle can be easier than knowing what to do in practice. Our new online tool and series of action packs aim to help communities engage more people as they initiate, plan and deliver sustainable energy projects.

Our new online community engagement tool

Our new online tool provides detailed ideas, tips and real-life case studies on a wide range of community engagement activities, from recruiting an initial group and holding the first event, to building community participation into decision-making and developing effective channels of communication. The website will feature case studies from countries across North West Europe, offering a range of different perspectives on activities to carry out and outlets to use to promote community engagement.

Ideas for community engagement activities can be explored by category from the homepage. Each idea has a list of corresponding case studies detailing how other real-life community groups have carried out those actions themselves. What makes the case studies featured in the tool different is that rather than being about what other community groups have done, the focus is on the detail of how they have done it.

Community-led project action packs

For communities looking for more in-depth guidance on particular types of projects, we've produced a series of action packs about setting up different community-led projects with sustainable use of energy and resources at their heart. This series updates and builds on a series of packs originally funded by NESTA and produced by Local United, a co-operative of social entrepreneurs which aims to speed up the rate at which good ideas are adopted by communities.

The action packs have been written by community activists who have first-hand experience of setting up and running their own social enterprises. Each pack provides a useful ‘how to’ guide, illustrated by inspirational stories and including technical information, such as template legal documents and financial models, and links to other information sources. The packs cover eight different types of community-led projects:

If your group or organisation is interested in sharing the action packs or including a link to the tool on your own website, contact us via ace@nef.org.uk. Community groups who have used the packs to support their own projects are also invited to provide information on how useful the packs have been, what other information should be provided or any other feedback which might improve future packs.

Academy of Champions for Energy

We've developed the online tool and action packs as part of the Academy of Champions for Energy (Ace). Ace is a sustainable energy initiative run by a partnership of energy organisations from across England, Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, funded by the INTERREG IVB NWE programme. Its aim is to share and disseminate information in order to support and encourage an increased uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. To find out more about Ace and to connect with sustainable energy communities across North West Europe, follow the project and join discussions via Twitter, LinkedIn or the quarterly Ace newsletter.