An innovative project to help 600 low income families in Cornwall to save energy and money is creating a storm in kitchens across the length and breadth of the county.
The ‘Energy Fit Kitchens’ workshops are taking the unusual approach of presenting energy saving advice in a fun and interactive way through free slow cooking events. As well as learning how to use the ‘slow and low’ method to turn inexpensive ingredients into a healthy family feast, the sessions have been designed to help people to understand how they use energy at home and the steps they can take to use less and reduce their energy bills.
The project has been developed and delivered by the Truro-based charity Community Energy Plus and is funded by a grant of £47,333 from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.
Over 250 people have so far attended the slow cooking workshops where there really is such a thing as a free dinner as all of the participants receive a free slow cooker and all of the ingredients to create a healthy family meal.
Hayley Uren, Project Manager at Community Energy Plus, described the value that participants are getting from the sessions: “The feedback has been amazing. The cooking part of the session and the tasty family meals taken home in the free slow cookers are always a big hit with everyone but it’s great to see how enthusiastic people are about the energy advice and how they plan to make changes when they get home to reduce their energy bills.”
Community Energy Plus have been working with local charities and public sector organisations to ensure that the slow cooking workshops reach out communities and engage with low income individuals. This has included Cornish food banks, NHS health workers, Children’s Centres, the Lizard Child Trust, Cornwall One Parent Support, New Start and Active Plus.
Lillian Symonds attended an Energy Fit Kitchens event in Bude last month, she said: “Learning about reading my energy usage and how to save real money will save my family so much.”
Paul Deeley took part in a workshop in St Austell and commented: “It has inspired me to cook with my free slow cooker and batch cook to make ready meals for the freezer. These workshops really do help people who need this advice and help.”
Work is underway to arrange more sessions in the New Year to enable a further 350 people to take part before the project ends in March.
Free places are available to low income households who are concerned about their energy bills, particularly if they have young children or a disability. Householders wanting to sign-up for a local workshop and community groups interested in co-hosting a slow cooking workshop are encouraged to contact Community Energy Plus to express their interest by calling 01872 245566, emailing [email protected] or messaging via the project’s ‘Energy Fit Kitchens’ Facebook Page.