THE ENERGY TOOLKIT

11. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY

OBJECTIVE

  • To engage with as many residents as possible in Overton, to find out what they think about community energy in the village. 

 

STRATEGY

 

We set up a stall on the Community Centre Forecourt in the centre of the village on a couple of bust Saturday mornings in August 2020. We had an information display, handouts, and questionnaires and members of the Sustainable Overton Energy Team were on hand to talk to people. This was a really good way of engaging with the community.

People seemed really interested in the concept of community energy; it was clearly a new area for nearly everyone. We also managed to recruit some more group members for our energy team and so we feel confident that this project will be well received and well supported by the village.

  • We produced a Survey Monkey questionnaire about community energy, which we posted on our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, and handed out paper copies in the village to those without access to the internet, and received over 100 responses. 

  • The questionnaire asked some general questions about people’s understanding of community energy, whether they would be interested in investing in a project, how efficient their home energy consumption was etc. 

  • You can find our Survey Monkey Energy Questionnaire here.

  • We also published the link in our monthly newsletter (Overton News and Views -see here) and provided 60 paper copies to give out for those without internet access
     

 

SUMMARY OF ACTIVITY

 

At this stage we did not know exactly what our project might look like. We believed it would be solar PV on community buildings, maybe a small solar farm or heat pumps. We were also keen to explore all options too, to enable us to plan the most effective options for the village.

As well as the backing of the community, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, our two Borough Councillors in Overton, Hampshire Country Council and Community Energy South were all interested in the project and were prepared to support us.

LEARNING POINT:

HOW TO GET YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE COMPLETED

  • We found that many people really intended to do this, but then forgot about it when they got home. 

  • Ask for people’s mobile numbers or email address, and then email or text them the link. It’s much easier to click on a link than having to type it in. 

  • Provide some chairs and encourage people to complete a paper copy there and then. 

  • If people take away a paper copy, let them know where to return it. 

  • Re-send the questionnaire link out a few times on your social media or email lists to pick up more responses. Most people mean to do it but forget. Use your teams to help. 

 

YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN WHAT COMMUNITY ENERGY IS

  • Most people have no idea what community energy is. 

  • Some people have a bit of knowledge and can be sceptical about the payback, and the technology. Be prepared to explain the post-FiT model and that community energy really does work. 

  • Provide simple, positive information. Also, if there are some simple diagrams or picture (great for children who are interested), this can prompt a really useful discussion. 

  • Ensure that your team know enough about community energy to be able to answer questions so that you have credibility. 

  • Remember that respondents are all potential fund-raisers or investors, so teaching them about how this works is crucial. 

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