Reflecting on our community engagement approaches

Last December, the GreenSCIES community engagement team ran their first “Stay Warm & Well” workshop in partnership with the Galbur Foundation.

One of the core principles of GreenSCIES is the co-design of the energy system with the local community. We want Islington residents to have a say in how the system is designed and run. Our role as the community engagement team is to reach out to a wide range of Islington residents and businesses to involve them in GreenSCIES, and make sure that the diversity of their experiences and opinions is reflected in the design of the system.

Reaching out to a wide range of residents means using a variety of engagement approaches. Some residents already have an interest in low carbon initiatives, or work in an energy related field. They  find it easy to participate in online co-design workshops and  have enough background knowledge to express their thoughts and give feedback. Other residents might be less familiar with the topic, or find it less relevant to their current situation.

After holding six online co-design workshops throughout the Summer, we wanted to engage with residents differently. In Islington, more than 1 in 10 households live in fuel poverty or struggle to pay their energy bills.  Many more residents worry about their energy costs and usage, especially in the Winter. This led us to run our first “Stay Warm & Well” workshop. These workshops, based on giving tips and advice on energy bills and usage, have already been delivered successfully by Repowering London in Lambeth for years. The workshop included an introduction to GreenSCIES, and what the project could mean to residents.

For our first Warm and Well workshop we partnered with the Galbur Foundation, a charity empowering young and vulnerable Islington residents to make positive changes in their lives through workshops and activities. They are an experienced,  trusted organisation and very well embedded within the local Somali community. We were able to support them in marketing our first workshop to Somali and Arab speaking Islington residents.

It was a pleasure to work with the Galbur Foundation and engage new residents on GreenSCIES, and we are planning to run more “Stay Warm & Well” workshops in the future. Moreover, the  experience was very insightful for us. We now have a better understanding of the importance of using simple concepts when engaging on such a complex project, and of the complexities of online engagement, especially when combined with translation. We are learning and evolving our approaches accordingly, and we are also looking forward with excitement to meeting Islington residents in person soon! 😉

If you are an Islington community organisation interested in partnering on future “Stay Warm & Well” workshops with us, we’d love to hear from you. And if you are a resident wanting to find out more and to get involved, please visit our dedicated page or email us at greenscies@repowering.org.uk.  We are very much look forward to hearing from you.

The GreenSCIES community engagement team