Helping grant holders take climate action … and save some money

Everyone agrees that the cost of living and the environment are big issues. Grant holders tell us that they want to do their part to look after the environment, but sometimes with rising demands they don’t have the resources or time.

We’ve been working on a pilot project with Action Renewables and National Lottery funded groups based across Northern Ireland, to help them take small steps by reducing their carbon emissions. With research, logistics and installation funded through National Lottery money, we’ve helped 17 groups move to generate their own electricity using solar panels or store electricity produced through solar panels they already had, meaning they get the full cost benefits of producing their own energy on site, whilst helping the environment. The money saved can then help the people they support, instead of paying the bills.

At a time when the cost of electricity from fossil fuels has never been higher, we estimate this has saved the projects £20,000 over the next year and 25,000 (kgCO2e) of carbon dioxide going into our atmosphere, the equivalent to the amount taken out by 30 acres of forest. It’s important to note that these savings are recurring and will benefit the community organisations and environment for many years to come. 

One of the groups who had solar panels installed thanks to an additional £10,000 of National Lottery money, is Rural Health Partnership in Armagh.

Teresa Nugent, Chief Executive of The Rural Health Partnership said: “We support the wellbeing of people across South Armagh through our National Lottery funded project and have computers running all the time as well as lights and emersion heating in our building – they all add up.

“At a time when costs are rising and a climate crisis – we expect to save over £1,000 this year on our electricity bills, money that we can use to support families over the summer or hold an event, now that restrictions are lifted.

“We are a well known and visible group in Armagh, and many others have seen our panels and asked about them as they are interested too. Through taking part, I see us as an example to others to help the environment and we have become so much more aware of saving energy too – making sure we turn things off and close doors.

“It is a step in the right direction and we are looking at what we can do next to take climate action. There is such a feel good factor, knowing that we are taking small steps and encouraging others to the do the same.”

Dawn Murphy, Senior Project Manager at Action Renewables said: “Being a part of this renewable energy pilot programme which helps grant holders reduce their carbon emissions has been extremely positive.  The organisations taking part are making their own contribution towards the impact of Climate Change within Northern Ireland.  The installation of solar panels for these organisations will not only provide a reduction in their carbon footprint but also a reduction in electricity costs, which in the current climate is extremely important.” 

Groups that have benefited from this pilot project include: Ashton Community Trust, Cancer Lifeline, Cloughmills Community Action Team, Footprints Women’s Centre, Fountain Street Community Development Association, Garvagh Development Trust, IncredABLE, JVC Community Trust, Laurencetown, Lenaderg and Tullylish Community Association, Lislea Community Association, Monkstown Boxing Club, Owenkillew Development Company Ltd, Rathfern Community Regeneration Group, Rural Health Partnership, Strabane Health Improvement Project, Tobin Centre (Moortown) Ltd and Women’s Aid (Antrim Ballymena and Carrickfergus).

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund NI Director said: “Communities have a big role to play in climate change – even small steps can make a big difference. We continue to work with our grant holders and their communities to find out what matters to them and to support them in taking in taking action.”

Projects can apply for grants for activity to support the environment through our Awards for All programme: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/awards-for-all-northern-ireland.

We also have a Climate Action Fund which will be opening again this summer for applications. Sign up to our Newsletter for updates on our funding.

More information on our Climate Action work can be found here: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/key-initiatives/climate-action-hub.

If you have an idea for a project, please contact us on 028 9055 1455 or email enquiries.ni@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk.

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