Support and guidance

These agencies provide a range of advice, information, training and other support to community organisations in Scotland. Not all of them cover the entire UK, and many have services available to members only.

The availability of different support services varies from region to region. A useful starting point for identifying local support services in your area is through the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations in Scotland, or your local authority.

The VolResource website has detailed listings of support bodies for the voluntary and community sector, broken down into general support, function-specific support (such as finance, law, volunteering) and issue-based support bodies (such as youth and specific advice services).

If you offer a support service that may be relevant to community energy work and would like to be added to this page, please contact us.


Countries covered

Advice Now

An independent, not-for-profit website providing up-to-date information on rights and legal issues. Topics covered include benefits, tenancy issues, discrimination, health and social care.

UK Wide

ARVAC - Association for research in the voluntary and community sector

A national membership organisation and resource for people interested in research in or on community organisations. Has an on-line bibliographic database of 3,000 community-based studies, research and advice on how to carry out research; policy briefings, and reports on research in progress. Members can access seminars and conferences and quarterly bulletins.


ASCC - Association of Scottish Community Councils

The Association of Scottish Community Councils is the National Representative and Campaigning Body for all the Community Councils of Scotland. It is independent of all governments - national and local, and all other interests.



The national network of multi-purpose community based organisations. The network supports organisations helping deprived neighbourhoods across the UK. Bassac programmes cover collaboration, impact, leadership, sustainability and voice. Responds to policy, campaigns and organises events and networking on behalf of the sector.

020 7336 9442

UK Wide

Big Green Book

A one-stop resource on business and the environment, aimed at helping companies align business operations with environmental management and business success.

UK Wide

Black Environment Network

BEN works to enable full ethnic participation in the built and natural environment. Directly runs a number of projects but also represents ethnic issues through influencing policy and fuelling debate, stimulating and supporting ethnic participation in environmental issues and supporting mainstream organisations to work with ethnic communities through training and consultancy.

01286 870715

UK Wide

British Youth Council

Promotes young people's views to government and supports their participation in the communities in which they live and wider civil society. BYC provides a range of services to develop and support individual young people, youth-led member organisations and organisations wanting to involve young people in their work.

0845 458 1489

UK Wide

CAN - Community Action Network

Supports the development of social enterprise across the UK. Offers business based growth support and technical support, networking, training and advice on social entrepreneurship.

0845 456 2537

UK wide


CDX is the UK-wide membership organisation for community development. CDX works to ensure that community development is recognised and supported as a powerful way of tackling inequality and achieving social justice.

0114 241 2760

UK Wide

Centre for Alternative Technology

They run an extensive range of training courses, undertake research and publish large amounts of practical and theoretical material.

UK Wide

Community Foundation Network

Community foundations are charities located across the UK dedicated to strengthening local communities. They manage local funds donated by individuals and organizations, and are one of the largest funders of community organisations in the UK. You can use the site to identify your nearest Community Foundation to find out about local grants for community projects in your area.

UK Wide

Community Generation Fund

The Community Generation Fund is a national fund created to provide a catalyst for the widespread development of community owned renewable energy infrastructure.  The fund was launched in March 2012 and provides commercial but creative loan funding for communities at the pre-planning (“development”) stage of their projects, as well as the construction (post-planning) stage.  Development loans are contingently-repayable loans for design,  environmental and other external costs involved in achieving the required planning and other consents/licenses.  The construction loans are long-term loans for equipment, construction and commissioning costs (post planning consent) available either stand-alone or alongside bank finance.

UK wide

Cooperatives UK

Co-operatives UK is a member based organisation for co-operatives across the country. Its aim is to represent the interests of member co-operatives and develop and extend the co-operatives sector as a whole.

UK Wide


Changeworks exists to improve quality of life and to protect the environment. Changeworks work with passion, integrity and in collaboration to develop and deliver innovative projects and businesses in energy, waste prevention and transport that inspire and empower people and communities to make a difference.

Changeworks can provide training and signposts to other training providers in Scotland.


Charities Aid Foundation

Provides financial services to charities and their supporters (donors), setting up and managing donor schemes and banking, investment and fundraising services for charities and social enterprise.

01732 520 000


Charities Evaluation Service

Supports the development of monitoring, evaluation and quality systems for voluntary and community sector work. Offers consultancy, resources and training.

020 7713 5722

UK Wide

Charities Trustee Network

The National Charity for Trustees, providing opportunities for charity trustees to share knowledge and experience with each other, signposting to information and services and giving trustees a voice to influence national policy. Offers networking events, web resources and discussion forum and advice around trusteeship and governance for voluntary and community organisations.

01483 230280

UK Wide

Community Energy Scotland

An independent Scottish Charity, actively supporting and funding community groups throughout Scotland to develop sustainable energy projects.


Community Central

Community Central is a free online hub for UK communities focussed on environmental change

UK Wide

Community Transport Association

Offers training, publications, advice, events and project support on voluntary, community and accessible transport across the UK.

0845 130 6195

UK Wide

Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations

Capacity building the minority ethnic voluntary and community sector, including a free helpline for the sector, campaigning and networking etc. Six regional offices including a Scottish and Welsh Office.

020 8432 0200

England, Scotland and Wales

Development Trusts Association

Development trusts are member-based community organisations that work to improve the quality of life for local people. They co-ordinate and deliver development projects for their area, often trading and owning buildings and other assets for social purposes and to generate funds for regeneration projects. DTA Scotland is a network of over 200 development trusts and provides a range of services and products to promote best practice, help with the establishment of new development trusts, and support existing trusts with their development projects and governance.

0131 220 2456


Directory of Social Change

An independent charity providing information and training to the voluntary and community sector across the UK. Training and publications cover fundraising, organisational development, management and leadership, communication, and finance etc. Hosts (a searchable on-line directoy of voluntary and community sector government grants, free for organisations with a turnover of under £500k). Also hosts and (accessed via a subscription fee).

08450 77 77 07

UK Wide

Energy Action Scotland

Energy Action Scotland is the charity whose mission statement is to eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland. Its corporate aims are:

- raising awareness of fuel poverty, particularly as it affects low income households; maintaining fuel poverty as a national issue of high priority; and - working towards affordable warmth for all;
 - identifying effective solutions which can transform cold, damp houses into warm, dry homes;
- researching fuel poverty and related issues in order to provide in-depth understanding of the causes and effects and to promote best practice;

- securing public and private investment for domestic energy efficiency initiatives.


Energy Saving Community

Offers a reference point for advice on working as a community to save energy, including a limited free expert advice service along with information on different energy sources and developing community projects.

UK Wide


Aims to fundamentally change the way people use and generate energy. The site brings people together in person and online, to challenge the status quo and get more control over where energy comes from, how much you use and how much you pay for it.

UK Wide

Forward Scotland

Forward Scotland carries out its work through a range of development projects and grant schemes funded by private and public sources. Working with clients, strategic partners and community groups, activities research key themes and issues of sustainable development to produce innovative and practical solutions. Through the design and delivery of grant schemes Forward Scotland help communities across Scotland improve their local environment and achieve a better and more sustainable quality of life.


Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth (FoE) are one of the largest global environmental NGOs, operating in 68 countries world-wide. The website offers a range of resources, guides and reports. See the community site for information about local FOE community groups.


Funder Finder

Produces software and other resources for grant-seekers, specialising in charitable trusts and foundations that fund in the UK. Some resources are free although the full searchable software must be purchased or accessed through your local library or community support service. Free resources inlclude 'Apply Yourselves' (helps groups write effective funding applications) and 'Budget Yourselves' (helps groups write effective budgets).

UK Wide


Groundwork supports communities in need, working with partners to help improve the quality of people's lives, their prospects and potential and the places where they live, work and play. They work alongside communities, public bodies, private companies and voluntary sector organisations to deliver projects and programmes focused around people, places and businesses.

UK Wide

Help the Aged

Help the Aged is one of the largest charities working in the UK with older people. The organisation has four main aims; combating poverty; reducing isolation; defeating ageism and challenging poor care standards.

UK Wide

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is one of the largest social policy research and development charities in the UK. Most of the JRF reports can be downloaded for free from the website

UK Wide

Local United

Diffusion packs on setting up social enterprises, which have been written and reviewed by people with first-hand knowledge of the community and climate action sectors they work in.

UK Wide

Low Carbon Communities Network

The Low Carbon Communities Network was formed to link, network and support the rapidly growing movement of climate change groups that are forming at local and community level.

UK Wide

National Energy Foundation

Helps UK citizens address issues of climate change through practical advice and help in installing energy saving measures and implementing appropriate renewable energy sources. The NEF website has resources for individuals, organisations and schools, and details of the NEF sustainable energy training programme.

01908 665555

UK Wide

Office for Civil Society-Big Society

Part of the Cabinet Office. The Big Society is about helping people to come together to improve their own lives. It’s about putting more power in people’s hands.

The Office for Civil Society, part of the Cabinet Office, works across government departments to translate the Big Society agenda into practical policies, provides support to voluntary and community organisations and is responsible for delivering a number of key Big Society programmes.

020 7276 6400

UK Wide

Planning Aid for Scotland

Planning Aid for Scotland was established in 1993 to provide people across Scotland with information and support to engage in the planning system. Planning Aid for Scotland is:

1. A unique and independent, national organisation that helps people to engage in the planning process.
 2. The leading voice on community engagement in planning matters, being professional, trusted, impartial and effective.
3. An organisation that ensures people are involved in the changes which affect their local area and beyond.



An independent rural regeneration charity, promoting a living and working countryside. It runs a free web-based rural development information service called InfoRurale ( a subscription extranet service called ruralnet|online ( which provides networking facilities for rural voluntary organisations.

0845 1300 411

UK Wide

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the umbrella body for voluntary organisations in Scotland. Through its members, elected representatives, paid staff and volunteers, it represents the interest of the Third Sector and provides services to help voluntary organisations across Scotland to work more effectively

Scotland Only

Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group

Working together to deliver a low carbon future for Scotland through smarter collaborations and better conversations. The 2020 Climate Group’s long-term aim is to contribute to the transformational change required for Scotland to progress to a low carbon economy by bringing together business, voluntary and public sectors to work together.

Scotland Only

TPAS - Tenant Participation Advisory Service

Provides information, advice, conferences, training and consultancies on all aspects of involving social housing tenants in housing management. Works with residents and landlords to encourage participation. TPAS England covers England, while TPAS Scotland and Cymru cover Scotland and Wales respectively.

England, Scotland and Wales


Unltd supports `social entrepreneurs' - those who are not part of a formal organisation and are working as individuals or on a social enterprise model to benefit the community. Unltd defines social entrepreneurs as `people with vision, drive, commitment and passion who want to change the world for the better'. Individuals can access a package of funding and support to help make their ideas to benefit the community a reality.

0207 566 1100

UK Wide

Voluntary News

VoluntaryNews is run by VolResource and carries relevant and practical voluntary and community sector news from across the UK. You can subscribe to a weekly email newsletter. News is searchable by location and issue and the site also contains an events diary.

UK Wide

Voluntary Resource

The website provides a wide range of practical resources for people involved community work, including briefings, contact information, specialist sources, suppliers etc. The site acts as a portal, bringing together a wide range of links to relevant web sites including detailed listings of support services for the sector. All the information is contained on the website, Voluntary Resource does not offer a telephone advice service.


Women's Environment Network

Works to educate, inform and empower women and men who care about the environment. Network of 40 local groups across the country.

0207 841 9004

UK Wide


The WCVA represents and campaigns for voluntary organisations, volunteers and communities in Wales. Offers training, briefing papers, funding advice etc.

0800 2888 329

2 degrees

2degrees is the world leading online community of over 11700 sustainability professionals from over 90 countries. The Community is built upon subject-specific Working Groups that concentrate the right people and knowledge in one place.

Read or download our guides for step-by-step instructions on running a successful community energy project