BWCE Community Fund helps Time Bank Plus to Empower People to Grow their Own Food

Time Bank Plus has played a big part in building a healthy, vibrant community in Bath and the surrounding area, connecting individuals and groups, and providing a network for people to help each other and feel valued in their local community. This network facilitates voluntary work which allows clients to build up time credits, that they can use to benefit from other people’s services, or donate to those who are in greater need. Time Bank Plus strongly believes that everybody’s time is valuable and everyone has something useful they can offer, it’s just a matter of imagination. Donated credits allow those who require more help than they are able to give to be a supported member of the network.

timebank1Growing Together is an initiative Time Bank Plus started at the beginning of this year to provide everything people need to be able to grow their own food at home. Free training gives individuals the knowledge and practice required to start growing, and the Tuesday meetup group at Bath City Farm allotments allows those without their own gardens to get involved. People can also get in-home advice to assess how their space can best be used for growing, and a buddy scheme facilitates people sharing allotments or just keeping each other company while getting their hands dirty. Thanks to BWCE Fund’s grant, Time Bank Plus can afford to fund a development worker to train and support people, so that their knowledge can be passed on and benefit everyone involved in the Growing Together scheme.

The BWCE Fund was set up by Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE), as a separate charity, to deliver funding to a range of low carbon and fuel poverty initiatives. BWCE are a community benefit society that own and develop renewable energy projects. Surplus profit is distributed via the BWCE Fund with preference given to applications close to sites where BWCE have generating projects operating. BWCE Fund trustee Peter Andrews says ‘this grant was important to us because it reinforces the fact that ‘low carbon’ is about more than just solar energy. Growing food close to where it to be consumed is a major factor in reducing our emissions with the added benefit of providing local people with new skills and access to cheap healthy food’.

Groups that development worker Rowan Wynne-Jones has worked with include the Home Education group which has connected families – parents with children – that work together on a shared allotment to produce their own food, while educating themselves about growing.

Rowan also worked with young people at the local Youth Hub, who were initially very reluctant to get their hands dirty, but gradually broke down the barriers and got stuck in. They have built raised beds and created a vertical strawberry patch, taking ownership of, and rejuvenating unused spaces in their community. They will soon be celebrating their hard work when they harvest tomatoes and sweetcorn for a pizza-making party.”

Rowan has also been leading growing activities with individuals, including a lady with a young family who has improved self esteem through producing delicious homemade chutneys and jams from produce grown in her garden and on the local allotment. Other beneficiaries of the project include a mother with two young children. She wanted her kids to understand where food comes from so decided to transform her unproductive garden into a raised bed allotment, and has just had her first harvest of potatoes.

timebank3After half a year of hard work diligently preparing growing spaces and sowing seeds, suddenly all the plants have shot up, and everybody involved in Growing Together is now reaping the rewards of harvest season.

“It is very satisfying to see people empowered to grow their own, inspired to come together, and fostering greater connections to food. It has been a slow process of small steps but we are now being rewarded for all our hard work” Rowan Wynne-Jones , Development Worker

Energy Efficient Lighting Transforms Atmosphere at Carers Centre

The Carers’ Centre, first established in 1996, supports individuals and families who look after their loved ones. The centre helps over 4000 people every year caring for family and friends with all sorts of illnesses or disabilities. These carers span a wideage range, with their youngest carer only five years old and the oldest about to have their hundredth birthday. Services carerscentre1the Carers’ Centre provide include helping clients build the skills they need to look after their loved one, giving them breaks from giving care and providing emotional support.

An example of someone who has benefitted hugely from the support of the Carers’ Centre is Fiona who, when her husband John had a stroke, dropped everything to solely care for him. She gives the beautiful analogy of an aeroplane safety demonstration that instructs you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. Similarly it is impossible to give good care when you are not looking after yourself. At the Carers’ Centre she was able to take breaks, doing varied courses and activities such as creative writing and stone carving, and take the time needed to nurture herself. This naturally had the knock-on effect of being able to provide better care for her partner, as well as keeping her sane.  Most carers are juggling their responsibilities alongside a job, school, raising a family, and many other circumstances. While caring for someone can be rewarding, carers often experience high stress, exhaustion and loneliness, and the Carers’ Centre has been a lifeline for countless people.

carerscentre2In June 2016, the Carers Centre won the very well deserved Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO) Level 3 quality mark, the highest possible quality mark for small organisations, making them only the second organisation to ever achieve this. They pride themselves on excellent quality on every level, with hard working staff and volunteers who work as a  well coordinated team with strong leadership. They are also dedicated to listening to and learning from their carers.

Recently  Bath and West Low Carbon Community Fund CIO (BWCE Fund) made a grant of £5000 towards a desperately-needed new lighting system. The Community Fund was set up by Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE), a community owned energy company,  as an independent charity to distribute surplus profits to low carbon and fuel poverty initiatives.

The trustees of the BWCE Fund considered the replacement of older, less energy efficient lighting systems as a good use of grant funding as it has multiple benefits: saving carbon, creating a more pleasant working environment and being cheaper to run and maintain. The old fluorescent strip lights had degraded substantially and become considerably less effective. The funding helped replace them with new LED lighting which is much more efficient and has a longer functional life. The centre has seen a decrease in its energy usage since the change, and has also been able to fulfill its environmental policy. The lighting has also made a huge difference for poorly sighted clients, and has completely changed the atmosphere of the space, with much warmer, brighter, more natural light – due to the diffusers that were chosen. The centre regularly hosts craft fairs, and feedback from all the stallholders was that it was a much more successful and enjoyable event due to the new lighting.

carerscentre3“The lighting system has created a healthier, happier atmosphere with partially sighted carers more able to enjoy the space. It has had a positive impact on the lives of everyone at the centre, and on our energy usage”  Janine Woodward-Grant,
Deputy Chief Executive

 

Old Mill 3

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Update 1 September

Things move on apace at Old Mill Hotel. Work has started at the Hydrowatt factory in Germany on the fabrication of the waterwheel. See the pictures above and below. Fingers crossed the circumference of the shutters shown in the Old Mill 2 Blog will be a few centimetres larger than circumference of the actual waterwheel. It is important that the new wheel fits snugly into its housing so that as much energy as possible from the water flowing underneath it is used to turn the wheel to generate electricity.

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 At the same time back at Batheaston the workers have not been idle. The shuttering for the housing for the  generator has  being erected in the concrete poured

Waterwheel generator housingSteelwork for generator housing