The advice service started in 2018, with a focus on supporting community buildings like village halls and community centres to reduce their carbon output through advice, energy audits, and grants. In 2020, we began to look at ways to extend the service to the wider community to have a greater impact on carbon savings and to support Suffolk’s target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
We connect with communities – normally a parish or small town – and provide them with toolkits to help individuals and groups make sustainable changes that drive carbon savings. This includes advice sheets on a huge range of actions and support on everything from no-cost measures and behaviour changes to higher-cost options like heat pumps and solar panels. We have an energy advice hotline that enables residents to access more personalised advice while our Green Champions go out into the communities and facilitate events, surveys, and other activities.
To ensure we created a service that effectively supported residents’ needs, Groundwork conducted a feasibility pilot in Hollesley, East Suffolk, including a residents' survey. The survey found that residents wanted more independent, impartial advice and information on sustainable home improvements. However, the survey also highlighted that not everyone is in a position to invest in changes, so it was equally important for residents to understand what no-cost actions they could take to make a difference.
Using contacts from the previous advisory service and support from Suffolk Association of Local Councils we promote the service to town and parish councils as well as communities with active green groups. The response has been very positive with most advice call slots booked up quickly. Local communities say this project has come at the right time, with many town and parish councils now committed to taking action against climate change. Through the Community Advice Service, we can help residents and communities to take the first step on the important journey to more sustainable living.
Engage and empower local communities – For many residents, climate change and their responsibility to live sustainably can feel overwhelming and they worry that it will incur a high cost. The project aims to support communities to gain a better understand of many of the no to low-cost actions they can take and empowers them to make changes to their daily behaviors.
- Number of communities supported
- Number of householders reached - 3,210 each year
- Total carbon savings initiated - estimated 67t per year