Social enterprise energised after Big Potential investment

Northern Community Power Director Craig Woolf (left) with UNW Corporate Finance Partner Paul Kaiser (centre) and Corporate Finance Manager Maxine Johnston (right)

Social enterprise energised after Big Potential investment

A social enterprise is planning the next stages of its development after receiving a £30,000 funding boost.

Wallsend-based Northern Community Power (NCP) received the grant through Big Potential in August.

Big Potential is a £10m fund aimed at eligible voluntary community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) that want to improve their sustainability, capacity and scale in order for them to deliver greater social impact to communities across England.

Since its incorporation in 2011 NCP has developed a strong relationship with several community centres across North Tyneside and Newcastle East End providing energy audits and workshops. With a focus on low income neighbourhoods, their aim is to help community centres and their neighbours to understand how better energy management and locally owned renewable projects can help save costs and create new income streams for communities.

After receiving initial funding from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF), NCP are currently investigating plans to install solar pv on up to 5 factory roofs in the east end of Newcastle. A proportion of the income generated from the sale of the electricity produced will then allow NCP to carry on its work with community centres and extend its networks.

Chartered accountancy and business advisory firm UNW worked with NCP to secure the funding.

Craig Woolf, director at Northern Community Power, said: “Our work up to now has highlighted to us the important and trusted role community centres play in their neighbourhoods. As well as the usual activities, many community centres provide a host of other important services including employment training, welfare advice and health and wellbeing projects. A better understanding of how to manage energy use can help centres save money on bills and even create new income streams and ensure long-term sustainability.”

Paul Kaiser, corporate finance partner at UNW, said: “Community buildings and many of their business and residential neighbours continue to find themselves under increasing financial pressure making the work Northern Community Power are doing all the more vital. UNW has been delighted to support them through the application process and beyond so that they can continue their work on an even larger scale.”

Having completed solar feasibility on a number of factory roofs on Tyneside the funding will enable NCP to upgrade and strengthen their governance and produce a business plan and financial model to prepare them to raise the capital investment for solar installations with support from UNW.

Craig added: “We are really excited to have been chosen as a recipient of Big Potential and to be working with UNW who have already been a huge help and have a great track record in helping new organisations such as ours take the next steps in their development.”

“Long term, Northern Community Power would like to see the project lead to training and employment opportunities for local people in renewables and energy efficiency technologies. Local communities should be at the heart of the renewable revolution with the financial benefits kept in the neighbourhoods where they are needed most.”

Big Potential is administered by the Social Investment Business on behalf of the Big Lottery fund in partnership with Locality, Social Enterprise UK, Charity Bank and the University of Northampton.

Any buildings or landowners who may be interested in hosting one of Northern Community Power’s installations can contact Craig Woolf at craigwoolf64@gmail.com or on 07739 863 603.