Our Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme is offering the opportunity for up to 40 community energy groups and community actors who are interested in energy related projects in England to benefit from free outside expert support on a wide range of issues, from finance to PR and microgrids to renewable heat.
The programme is open to both new and established community energy groups, and will give you the opportunity to network with others in the sector, share your own experiences and learn something new to benefit your own organisation.
The deadline for applications is 4 May 2021 (this is an extension from the earlier deadline).
Each group will be assigned an experienced community energy mentor who will be responsible for co-ordinating and leading the sessions. Mentoring will focus on issues most important to the group and identified in a match-making process.
Each mentor may oversee four mentees, grouped according to their needs and interest. Allowing groups to share experience and knowledge with each other as a cohort will enhance the conversations and learning that takes place throughout the programme.
Up to four days of peer mentoring support will be given with sessions taking place between June and November 2021. The pace, number and length of sessions will be flexible and led by the group being mentored. Due to Covid-19, mentoring support is likely to be limited to phone, video conferencing (via a platform such as Loomio) and email – at least for the time being - but we believe this will not affect the quality of support.
Examples of topics that cohorts may focus on include
Technology – this would focus on a particular technology which the members would like to learn more about such as wind, hydro or heat pumps, along with broader topics such as low carbon transport or renewable heat if desired.
Innovative solutions – this might cover emerging technologies and innovative business models such as microgrids, energy storage, using smart energy data or grid flexibility services.
Engaging with people – focusing on topics such as fuel poverty, energy efficiency or retrofit, and or general skills such as marketing and communications and raising community shares.
Business development and partnership working – centred around topics such as how to avoid burnout, funding and finance, working within legal and regulatory environments, working in partnership with local authorities, schools and housing developers.
All these topics and more can be selected in the application form.
Who are the mentors?
Ten mentors have already been selected. If you have a preference for a particular mentor please tell us in your application and explain why you’d like to be matched with them, and we’ll do our best to match you up, though can’t guarantee this.
Kayla Ente, Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative
Toby Costin, Crew Energy
Peter Capener, Bath & West Community Energy
Simon Tilley, Hockerton Housing Project
Jonathan Atkinson, Carbon Co-op
Will Cottrell, Brighton Energy Coop
Gill Fenna, Quantum Strategy & Technology Ltd
Richard Watson, Energise Sussex Coast
Michael Beech, RINA Tech UK Ltd
Ben Dodd, Green Fox Community Energy Co-operative
Apply to become a mentee here
(NB, this application form doesn't save partially completed applications, so we suggest you to save your answers in a separate document and copy and paste them into the application form once you are ready to submit. Please complete as much of the application form as you can.)
The deadline for applications is 4 May 2021.
After you submit your application, it will be looked at by our assessment panel which is hosted by Co-operatives UK. If you have any queries you can contact the panel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in March we ran a webinar for potential applicants to the mentoring programme to find out more and ask questions. You can see a recording here.
Running a community energy business is a challenge and unknown issues and challenges ahead. Mentoring, and being mentored, helps because:
It energises and motivates mentors and mentees to develop their potential.
Enhances interpersonal and communication skills.
It allows for the sharing of successes and failures in an open and supportive environment.
You benefit from the practical experience accumulated by others and avoid reinventing the wheel.
Develop a greater understanding of learning styles and how to share knowledge by asking the right questions, in an appropriate and open manner.
It provides an opportunity to reappraise what you’re doing in a project, ask penetrating questions and find innovative solutions.
At the end of the mentoring sessions we expect that some groups may wish to continue to learn and collaborate. We will ask for feedback from mentors and mentees so that we can further refine, scale and develop the programme and establish how it might be continued in the medium-term if there is demand.
We will also be interested to know if, through the mentoring process, issues arose that either couldn’t be resolved or would be relevant to the wider community energy sector.
Who is running the programme?
Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme is managed by Co-operatives UK who also deliver The HIVE support programme for co-operatives and the Community Shares Booster Programme and who ran the award winning Community Energy mentoring scheme that came to an end in back in 2015.