Community benefit programme

In the face of the ongoing energy and cost of living crises, community hubs have become warm and welcoming refuges for residents struggling to heat their homes. Many of these shared spaces, which are often old and draughty, can be costly to run, particularly with soaring energy bills.

With millions of people in the UK continuing to face fuel poverty, we extended the impact of our Community Benefit Programme even further last year. In conjunction with national energy charity, Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), we awarded over £37,000 worth of grants to ten community centres near our clean energy sites.

This year we introduced energy efficiency training for communities to help them identify and tackle fuel poverty in their midst. For the first time, we also provided energy essentials training to community volunteers to enable them to help local people improve energy efficiency in their homes. The training was delivered through a series of webinars run by CSE on a range of topics including fuel poverty awareness and basic energy advice, community approaches to tackling fuel poverty and energy efficiency in community buildings.

Grants up to £4,500 were awarded to Debenham Shed in Suffolk, Littleport Scout and Guide HQ in Cambridgeshire, Peedie Kirk Church in Orkney, Halton Community Centre in Lancaster, Young Bristol and many more – enabling them to make important energy efficiency improvements such as roof and loft insulation, LED lighting and double glazing.

One of our grantees from 2023 was Debenham Shed, located roughly 8 miles from our Eye wind farm in Suffolk. Debenham Shed aims to improve mental health for retired men and women who may otherwise struggle with loneliness or isolation, by providing workshop facilities with tools and materials for people to connect, converse and create. Debenham Shed applied for our Community Benefit Programme so that it could improve heating and insulation in order to continue running the workshop safely and comfortably throughout the winter.

“More and more people have joined Debenham Shed in the past couple of years to work on their own projects, shared or community projects. We converted a single-skin, steel-panelled lean-to area into a building extension for activities such as woodworking, painting, repair and renovation and are now installing large woodworking machinery.

The grant from Thrive has enabled us to insulate the walls and roof effectively and to install fixed infrared panel heaters, which provide almost instant heat and are programmable, controlled over Wifi from our website. Without insulation and the safe and efficient heaters we’d all have to wear bulky outdoor clothing, which can be unsafe when operating machinery and not pleasant to work in. We’d also have had much bigger energy bills.By reducing condensation, the improvements will also prevent deterioration of stored goods and materials, projects and machinery in the extension by damp during cold weather. Thus our members will be warmer and safer, our energy bills lower and our assets will last longer.”


Tony Hutt, Treasurer
Debenham Shed