CCEL has just awarded its first funding to local community groups from its community benefit fund. It was agreed at the AGM last October that one thousand pounds would be set aside for the fund from revenues in 2017 as required by its rules as a Community Benefit Society. The awarding of the fund was carried out by a panel of two shareholders and a director of CCEL with the help of Chester Voluntary Action. Julie Savory, Catherine Green and Graham Booth devised and managed the selection process and Joanne Stanton of CVA selected applicants and handled the applications. Eleven applications were eventually received and they were whittled down to four who all received funding between two and three hundred pounds. The successful applications were received from Frodsham Community Association, Neston Community Youth Centre, Retreat House Chester and Cheshire Waste Reduction Volunteers.
Three of the recipients had applied for help with replacing florescent tube lighting with more efficient LED lighting. The two community centres at Frodsham and Neston were both well used community hubs, with multiple rooms and facilities in which a wide range of activities, events, community groups and services take place. The CCEL funding has allowed them to continue with their aim of reducing their energy bills as much as possible. The third recipient is Retreat House Chester, a new charity offering a range of workshops and events themed on quiet reflection and meditation. Chester Cathedral is refurbishing part of a period building in Abbey Square for the use of the charity and the fund will be used towards changing the existing lighting to be more efficient and restful.
The fourth recipient is Cheshire Waste Reduction Volunteers, a charity that promotes reducing domestic waste and also does educational work in schools. It received £214 to buy large compost bins that will be used in local schools as part of the children’s environmental education. This project was chosen because composting is energy efficient as it recycles waste at source without the need for transport. It also has the bonus of engaging children in a behaviour that could be carried on throughout their lives.
The general consensus from all the parties involved was that the process of selection was fair and transparent. The successful applicants all commented that they enjoyed the experience of meeting together for the selection interviews. This proved to be a very relaxed meeting with a lot of sharing of information and learning. The fund for this year is to be advertised in November or December and hopefully, £1000 will be available again for small local charities to reduce their energy use.