£100,000 Corona Crisis Funds mobilised by 4 community energy enterprises

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In the first week of the lockdown, CfR’s ‘collective’ of local energy enterprises have between them mobilised £100,000 of Corona Crisis Funds to support those facing hardship in their communities.

As community-owned enterprises, they were able to mobilise funds ahead of Government, and where it was urgently needed, to support community-organised aid networks. The Corona Crisis Funds were distributed from surpluses generated by community-owned solar arrays. They illustrate how local ownership of energy (and other infrastructure) can help communities be more resilient. Three out of the four community renewable energy projects have raised over £3.5 million in investment via the ethical investment platform Ethex.

Selsey and Sidlesham’s Ferry Farm Community Solar has allocated £40,000 to support organisations helping those in the local community facing hardship. Funding is urgently needed for a rapidly mobilised community support network and the households they are helping. Three initial awards totaling £17,500 have been made in the first week of the lock down:

  • On the day the schools were shut down, a donation of £1,500 was made to the Academy Selsey to pay for a subscription to an online library to enable students to access contemporary reading materials whilst stuck at home.
  • £6,000 has been provided to Selsey Community Forum, who are co-ordinating the Corvid Mutual Aid network for Sesley and Sidlesham. £1,000 of this is to contribute to the cost of running the network and £5,000 is an initial contribution to a crisis fund for families facing financial difficulty. This funding will be provided directly to families in need to cover short-term crisis cash needs.
  • £10,000 has been allocated to Chichester Food Bank to support its operation in Selsey and Sidlesham.

Gawcott and Buckingham’s Gawcott Solar CIC has allocated £14,000 to a Corona Crisis Fund. Two donations have been made in the first week of the lock down:

  • £2,500 to Buckingham Food Bank to help provide emergency food to local families in crisis.
  • £747 to YC2 Buckingham& Winslow Young Carers for gift vouchers to cheer up 55 young carers looking after family members at home.

Keith Croxton, Buckingham Food Bank, said:

We are so grateful to Gawcott Community Solar for their amazing donation. This will ensure the elderly and vulnerable as well as others in crisis as a result of this epidemic can be provided with emergency food parcels when needed.

National Energy Foundation, who manage Gawcott Solar CIC’s Bee Warm energy advice service are focussing their efforts on helping local households in financial hardship deal with energy company issues including offering pre-pay meter vouchers.

Burnham and Weston Energy CIC have allocated £40,000 to a Corona Crisis fund and are liaising with local community networks and Somerset Community Foundation, who manage their community fund, to understand where they can be most useful.

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy are allocating some of their community funds to support local Food Banks.

Jake Burnyeat, Director of CfR CIC, said:

These rapidly deployed Corona Crisis Funds show the real value of communities having their own local energy enterprises: generating funds to deploy for the benefit of local communities as needs arise. In the first week of the lock down just 4 local energy enterprises have between them been able to mobilise £100,000 to help their communities respond to a crisis which has come out of the blue. Hopefully next year, they will return to their longer-term purpose of supporting their communities’ net zero transition and tackling fuel poverty, but at present there is no greater need and no better way for the surplus funds to help people in their locality. Other community energy enterprises are mobilising similar crisis funds and support. If every town had a community energy enterprise that story could be repeated across the UK – something to bear in mind as the we plan our new zero carbon energy future.”

Lisa Ashford, CEO of Ethex, said:

The Corona Crisis Fund is a perfect example of the meaningful impact communities can have when they band together, something that is needed now more than ever. It also demonstrates the transformative power of ecologically friendly, community-owned renewable energy projects and how truly ethical investment can be mobilised to create tangible, positive benefits for communities, whilst offering a return on investment. We are grateful to CfC for driving this initiative forward and are proud to be supporting their remarkable work and those of other community energy groups and sustainable businesses by helping these initiatives raise funding through our investment platform.”