Creating a network of Community Energy Champions in Milton Keynes
We have teamed up with the Open University to deliver a pilot project in Milton Keynes that will focus on recruiting and training community members to become volunteer Energy Champions in their neighbourhoods and communities.
The project has been made possible thanks to the funding from the Natural Environment Research Council as part of their recent funding call on ‘Engaging the UK public with the big issues of environmental science’.
The Energage project is one of 18 across the UK – click here to find out more about this funding initiative.
The initiative is the result of successful collaboration and partnership-working between Community Action: MK and the Open University through the MK:Smart and CAPE, Community Action Platform for Energy, projects. It is also linked to the work of other local organisations in Milton Keynes that promote the concept of community-owned and sustainable energy. These include Transition MK, Wolverton Community Energy (through Citizens:mk) and others involved in MK Community Energy Alliance and other organisations who already provide energy training such as The National Energy Foundation and Citizens Advice Milton Keynes.
There is already a number of local volunteers who champion sustainable energy and environmental awareness in Milton Keynes, and we want to learn from their experiences. Further, we want to attract new people – anyone with an interest in energy and sustainability, and ways of helping their own communities be more sustainable is welcomed to get involved in the project, and is asked to please get in contact with Community Action: MK.
The Energage project aims to develop a network of Community Energy Champions (COMECs) in Milton Keynes, who help to translate energy-based research from the Open University to the general public in a way that will help them find solutions that work to reduce their own carbon footprint. In return Open University researchers will learn better ways to engage the public with their research. This exchange of knowledge will occur through a series of co-creation workshops, facilitated by Community Action: MK.
Another important part of their role will be to grow the network through recruitment of new volunteers. Initial workshops will be followed by a ‘week of action’ in which COMECs will engage with the public. They will share their experiences amongst the community engagement specialists and Open University researchers. This pilot scheme is intended to be the start of longer term engagement between Open University energy researchers and the public.
Energage hope to build upon activities of the existing CAPE, Community Action Platform for Energy project at the Open University and lots of other energy-related initiatives across the city. The CAPE project aims to help reduce the carbon footprint of Milton Keynes by engaging the public with relevant data; it will also be linking homeowners identified as a good fit for energy saving measures (e.g. solar panels, loft insulation) with companies that can provide products, or to grant providers, such as the MK Council.
WORKSHOP 1 – Wednesday 8th February – find out more and register here.
Our first Workshop was a big success. We had a wonderful group attending and sharing their stories, experiences and motivations with everyone. We began the evening with an introduction by NEF, followed by an overview of Energage and the co-design concept, networking and group discussions on commonalities – to better understand what brought people to the workshop.
WORKSHOP 2 – Tuesday 14th February
At the second workshop was dedicated to exploring the traditional and novel technigues for community engagement, focusing on engaging positively with the community. The workshop was the opportunity to meet with the Community Mobilisers at Community Action: MK and learn about their community engagement and development work across Milton Keynes. The attendees also took part in an interactive activity related to carbon footprint – with Hilarie Bowman, the local Carbon Conversations facilitator.
The interactive sessions resulted in the attendees designing a model app that would help communities and households better manage their energy use…
WORKSHOP 4 – Thursday 28th February
At the fourth workshop we continued exploring data that will soon be available via the upcoming CAPE, Community Action Platform for Energy website, with particular focus on data related to existing and potential solar panel installations in Milton Keynes.
We have also explored Using Social Media for Social Change and discussed ideas for a WEEK OF ACTION, during which the champions are encouraged to take an action on energy in their own communities. We are now looking forward to finding out how the Week of Action has gone at the next workshop on Monday 13th March. If you would like to get involved, contact Anna on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01908 661 623.
WEEK(s) of ACTION:
Click here to see ideas of what you could do during the WEEK(s) of ACTION in your own community.
Click here to see an invitation from the EnergageMK Community Energy Champion, Simon Hussey, to the Open Days at his own house in Downhead park.
WORKSHOP 5 – Thursday 23rd March: 5-7PM
Topic: Community action on energy in Milton Keynes, including session with Wolverton Community Energy.
We will be actively promoting the project in the next few weeks and updating you about its further plans. If you are interested in getting involved, please click here to register your interest or contact Anna at Community Action: MK on:
01908 661 623/ 07710 967131