Big Energy Saving Week Guest blog from Big Lottery Fund
Energy and food: two basic living essentials, two things many households are struggling to meet the costs of. It’s not just an issue for those in the most severe poverty these days.
The struggle with rising energy prices has been covered at length in the last week, but meanwhile, the price of food continues to escalate – wheat prices are up by 30 per cent from last year according to the British Retail Consortium; the National Farmers’ Union has found that wheat yields in England are down by 14 per cent on the five-year average due to adverse weather conditions. This then has the knock on effect of hitting meat prices – as pig and poultry farmers rely on grain to feed their livestock.
And hard-up consumers are buying less fresh produce, such as fruit and vegetables. A report from Defra highlights how low income households bought 25 per cent less fruit and 15 per cent less vegetables between 2007 and 2010 – with the cost of fruit rising 34 per cent since 2007.
This autumn Big Lottery Fund announced £12m to 12 England projects through its Communities Living Sustainably programme – which aims to deal with the impacts of climate change, such as food and fuel poverty, and help people adapt the way they live to reap future benefits such as cost-savings and a better standard of life.
Middlesbrough Environment City received £999k to encourage the community to adopt greener behaviours and lead healthier lifestyles – with community champions set to show people how to make their homes more energy efficient and how to grow their own produce.
During Big Energy Saving Week the group is going out into the community to promote free cavity and loft insulation – and offer residents advice on energy saving and switching energy suppliers to best suit their needs.
Although Communities Living Sustainably is now closed for applications, we have appointed a Groundwork led partnership to collate the learning from projects through an online hub over five years so that other communities can benefit.
And we are keen to encourage other groups to take advantage of our small grants programme. Awards for All makes grants of between £300 and £10,000 to community groups across the UK for social and environmental projects that will benefit local communities and make a difference to the lives of those most in need.
The funding can be used for projects such as setting up grow-your-own schemes and insulating community buildings.
More advice is available from the Big Lottery Fund website or by calling 08454 10 20 30.