17th January 2018

A social enterprise is planning the next stages of its development after receiving a funding boost, with help from UNW

Wallsend-based Northern Community Power CIC (NCP) is putting plans in place for capital investment after it received a £30,000 Big Potential grant in August 2017.

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

Since its inception in 2011, NCP has developed strong relationships with several community centres across North Tyneside and Newcastle East End providing energy audits and workshops. With a focus on low income neighbourhoods, its 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 is currently investigating plans to install Solar Photovoltanic systems on up to five 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, says: “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 well-being 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, says: “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.”

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

Craig adds: “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.

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