Past community fund awards

For the current year’s community fund, click here.

Juliette Jackson of SEADREAM demonstrates a solar panel as part of her ECOE-funded school classes. Credit: SEADREAM

Juliette Jackson of SEADREAM demonstrates a solar panel as part of her ECOE-funded school classes. Credit: SEADREAM

The fourth year of our community fund came during the COVID-19 pandemic. We could therefore draw on income from our ten solar power sites to fund groups in and near Exeter working on clean energy and fuel poverty to help build back better. So, in 2021, ECOE had a total of £6,990 available. This time we made awards to five groups: Transition Exeter, Hospiscare, SEADREAM, Whipton Community Association and TRIP Community Transport.

Transition Exeter

Transition Exeter’s mission is to inspire and support positive local action in Exeter. So, it promotes actions including those related to reducing carbon footprints and fighting climate change. This time we awarded Transition Exeter an £1,000 grant because it wanted to help set up a Community Emergency Centre in Exeter city centre. It will be in an empty shop or premises, modelled on examples other cities. Obviously, this is really important given that town and city centres are under threat. The aim is for the centre to be:

  • A source of information about saving energy and reducing emissions. It will provide information about products, providers, grants where appropriate and other kinds of support.
  • A space for community events, meetings and training related to climate and ecological emergencies.
  • A space for community groups, enterprises and charities sharing similar values, for hire on commercial basis, reduced cost or available free.  These could include repair cafes, and other activities to reduce waste, enhance a circular economy and share resources.

Those who will benefit from the project include:

  • People who want advice to help to reduce their carbon footprint, to cut their fuel bills or to support biodiversity in their area;
  • Local community organisations and businesses who might wish to share the space to promote their sustainability activities;
  • All citizens who will benefit from action on the climate and ecological emergencies. This could be through a healthier diet and lifestyles, active travel, knowing about local collective action that they can join, and through the impact in reducing emissions and promoting biodiversity.
  • There may be educational benefits through providing resources to schools.
The LED lights in Hospiscare's Exmouth office that ECOE paid for through its community fund

The LED lights in Hospiscare’s Exmouth office that ECOE paid for through its community fund

The second funding award went to Hospiscare. It offers clinical services and hospice care. Also, it encourages people to see death as an important part of living, as well as to cherish those reaching the end of their lives. So, we awarded them £460 to provide LED fittings at the nursing team’s office in Exmouth.

The teams work across two offices, occupied throughout Covid-19. However, the current fittings are outdated and inefficient. The offices are often used seven days per week, including late evenings. Therefore, the new fittings will reduce energy consumption. Also, they provide a better level of lighting for the nursing teams and improve their workplace. So the award benefits nursing staff and volunteers who use the office.


The third award went to SEADREAM, which stands for Science and Engineering Around Devon, Research, Education And More! SEADREAM’s directors are three female doctorates. Significantly, they are all passionate about inclusivity and accessibility to fun and meaningful Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (STEAM). So they deliver inspiring activities across the south west that shatter gender stereotypes and promote care for the environment. Thus they increase confidence, develop skills, break down barriers and lead by example. During COVID, 20–40% of children remained at schools. But teachers were struggling to balance in-class education with home learning.

Due to this, SEADREAM used an award for £920 to devise and deliver sessions on how to save energy. As a result, it steered families towards help available should there be signs of fuel poverty. The project benefited 6-8 cohorts of around 25 children, families and teachers in schools belonging to the Exeter Learning Academy Trust. This included four primary schools and the secondary school, Isca Academy. SEADREAM provided resources for children in school and at home but learning remotely. SEADREAM also merged experience with creating inspiring resource boxes, producing teaching support material, delivering “live” sessions via Zoom or Google classroom.


TRIP Community Transportation Association is a community transport charity that helps connects people, both by providing support and services as well enabling people to access other services. Focusing on reducing isolation and loneliness, alongside fairer provision to accessible transport, and social inclusion. The award of £1,000 went towards an electric wheelchair accessible vehicle, to enable TRIP to replace  a 17-year-old vehicle, which is used on average 5000 time a year.

Whipton Community Association

Whipton Community Association is set up primarily to manage Whipton Community Hall and help local residents improve the Whipton community.

The funding was requested to improve the Whipton Community Hall, which is a former church and therefore not an energy efficient building. The main costs for running the hall are electricity and gas. The funding was requested to replace the current fluorescent lighting with more modern lighting. The hall needs to have lighting on a lot of the time when it is used, with regular daily bookings from community groups and classes therefore replacement would lower our running costs.

The funding of £500 went towards replacing the lighting. The feedback from users were that the Hall feels brighter, lighter space and a lot more energy efficient.

Our 2019/2020 awards

In the third year of our community fund, ECOE once again helped local people, by funding eleven groups to tackle the climate emergency or advance social justice. This was the first year that people applied from all areas of Devon where ECOE has either solar power generation or runs our Healthy Homes for Wellbeing project. Therefore, this brought the most applicants to ECOE’s community fund ever, up to eleven from four the previous year.

We met at Stephens Scown, who kindly let us use a room in which to decide how to share £6,235. We gathered ECOE directors and members, people from solar sites, applicants and other interested parties.

Widespread support

This time, we decided to cover the full requests for four groups.

  • Countess Wear Village Hall Community Association got £960. This will go towards a renewable energy project with new solar panels and a battery.
  • Trip Community Transport in Honiton got £500 to help reduce rural isolation and loneliness through bus transport services. The money would cover staffing costs for bookings and administrative support for affordable transport like Ring and Ride. It will also go towards specialised disability equipment and a personal befriending service.
  • Friends of Eastcliff Park in Teignmouth got £450. This will purchase shrubs, trees and plants, a wheelbarrow and tools and improve path access for the Dell area. The funding will provide green space, health and wellbeing, and carbon storage.
  • Halberton Primary School got £300, for educational resources. It will buy a solar mechanics kit, hydropower kit and air and water power kit. This will educate children about the importance of renewable energy sources and link to their learning about the climate emergency and energy use at home.

Beyond this, six other groups each received £670. The final group, Exeter YMCA, will get funds available through ECOE’s Healthy Homes for Wellbeing scheme. The number of groups helped is a testament to ECOE’s reach. This is only possible because of the members who invested in our solar generation sites. So thanks to everyone involved – you’ve made a difference!

The full list of applicants is as follows:

The full list of ECOE community fund applicants for 2019

The full list of ECOE community fund applicants for 2019

Our 2018/2019 awards

In the second year of our community fund, ECOE made £4,100 available via its community fund. We granted £1,400 to Art and Energy for creative solar workshops making renewable energy both fun and inspirational.

Art and Energy workshops help people of all ages make creative solar chargers. Image credit: Art and Energy

Art and Energy workshops help people of all ages make creative solar chargers. Image credit: Art and Energy

Creative impact

Art and Energy said this to ECOE about the community fund:

We understand that responding to the climate emergency is really tricky. It will require all of humanity’s ingenuity and creativity. It will require us to do things differently.

Art and Energy CIC is a collective of artists and energy experts who bring together their knowledge and skills to reimagine the way solar panels are made, so we can have new, unique and beautiful energy generation systems for special places and you can get involved in making artworks that generate clean energy and make the world a better place.

Without the support of Exeter Community Energy, we wouldn’t be able to offer our solar panel charger making workshop to people in Exeter and across the South West. Our workshops have been well received. We look forward to sharing our passion for renewable energy with anyone who wants to find a creative way to respond to the climate emergency.

Local first

In addition, we allocated £900 to each of three other applicants.

Pinhoe Road Baptist Church wanted to install of LED lighting. Pinhoe Road Baptist Church were the first to use their funds and enjoy the benefits in lower energy bills.

Estuary League of Friends in Topsham wanted to install an electric vehicle charge point. It was the first such charge point in Topsham. Find out more in this video:

The Music in Devon Initiative wanted money to install solar panels on its studios. Unfortunately, MIDI was unable to find the remainder of the funds needed to move forward with this project. Therefore, we put the money we had allocated to their project into the 2019/2020 community fund.

Thanks go out to the 42 members who kindly donated part or all of their share interest to contribute £2,100 to the community fund. Their funds added to the £2,000 agreed by members at the 2018 AGM to make the total £4,100 awarded.

Our 2017/2018 awards
The Music in Devon Initiative's solar PA is funded by ECOE

The Music in Devon Initiative’s solar PA was funded by ECOE’s Community Fund. Credit: Music in Devon Initiative

In the first year of our community fund, we awarded £4,200 across three community organisations, £3000 from ECOE’s core funds and £1,200 donated by members.

The Music in Devon Initiative’s solar PA was funded by a grant from ECOE’s Community Fund. Credit: Music in Devon Initiative

One, the Music in Devon Initiative (MIDI), launched its solar-powered PA that we awarded them £2000 for in August 2018. As well as displacing fossil fuel-powered energy, it allows them to perform in off-grid locations. Indeed, they initially demonstrated it at St Sidwell’s Community Centre, with local musicians playing to passers-by on the High Street, and later used it at Exeter’s Street Arts Festival.

Also from the 2017/2018 grants, Wonford Community and Learning Centre received £996 to install a new display that provides information about their ECOE community-owned solar installation. Pinhoe Road Baptist Church received £1,275 to install replacement LED lighting in one of their large meeting rooms.