Here at Community Action:MK we are very are excited about being part of the CAPE project. Our role in this collaborative initiative is to ensure that the voice and the needs of our communities are reflected in every phase of the project – from involving them in developing and testing the CAPE website to supporting them in starting their own projects through the website once it has been launched.
Community engagement is at the heart of what Community Action:MK does. Thanks to the variety of projects that we have been involved with, such as MK:Smart, Engage MK or supporting the work of Transition MK, we already know that there is an increasing interest among communities to take a more proactive role in how energy is used and distributed in the city.
There are, of course, initiatives in the city, including Wolverton Community Energy and Citizens:mk, that are already getting community-led energy projects off the ground. Our aim over the next few months is to build on this interest and experience in order to accelerate community energy projects in Milton Keynes. We also want to provide a forum that will create opportunities for individuals and groups to work collaboratively.
In addition, we want to engage those of our communities who might be less aware of the possibilities and benefits associated with community energy. We want to help them understand how taking energy into own hands is a an option and that it can bring significant benefits like reducing energy bills (alleviating fuel poverty), bringing citizens together and enhancing community cohesion and resilience, as well as creating local jobs and encouraging local suppliers to deliver projects. We will also offer our support to communities with bringing citizens together, setting up projects, recruiting local volunteers and seeking funding.
How we will do this?
Working closely with other partners of the project, the Social Marketing team at the Open University and Milton Keynes Council in particular, we will take CAPE to various community hubs, groups, parish councils and events across the city. We will organise workshops and roadshows, creating opportunities for citizens to help us develop and test the website.
We are also encouraging citizens to register their details on our website (register here), so that we can keep in touch with you through our blogs and newsletters.
Through these engagement activities, we are seeking input and feedback to ensure that the new CAPE website reflects the needs and abilities of a wide range of community members, and that it becomes a functional, accessible and a user-friendly tool for starting and running community energy projects in the city.
We understand the work that will need to be done to overcome issues such as digital exclusion, particularly among the older population. To do this we will seek to work collaboratively with other organisations in Milton Keynes such as Citizens Advice, and MK Council through its Digital Champions initiative. We are also really keen to understand the work that Citizens Advice already do with people affected by fuel poverty.
We will also look into providing training and resources to those individuals who have a particularly strong interest in community energy and an aspiration to help their own local communities, whether they are existing groups, schools or other community places, or estates, to better understand what community energy is about. These ‘champions’ will be identified through our volunteering opportunities that will be advertised through Community Action: MK channels, including the DO-IT.ORG website.
We envisage our local communities, including individual citizens, local community and resident groups, and hubs, will take an active role in developing the Community Action Platform for Energy website. We want to empower them to help revolutionise the energy distribution in the city, improve the environment and create an innovative model that can be shared with citizens and communities in other cities across the country, and even across the world.
We would love to hear from any individuals and groups in Milton Keynes that want to work with us on the CAPE project. Please contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved by:
- Volunteering as a local community energy champion
- Inviting the CAPE team to visit your group, project or event
- Offering to help with developing and testing the CAPE website
- Suggesting any other way that, you think, might benefit the CAPE project