GreenWays to Work

The Innovation, Transnational and Mainstreaming strand of the European Social Fund (ESF) supports a small number of strategic, regional projects looking to develop and deliver new ways of extending employment opportunities and raising workforce skills. In 2009 Impact Housing were successful in tendering for the opportunity to deliver skills for climate change through a project called GreenWays to Work. The 3 year programme began in August 2009 and at the mid point has received a positive evaluation report recognising the early achievement of objectives and outcomes and overall programme quality.

Building on a track record of providing practical work-based training, notably in recycling, the project has already developed and is currently delivering innovative training packages in the three key areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy and recycling, benefitting both the local workforce and those experiencing fuel poverty.
GreenWays to Work is testing the potential that a housing provider has to bring about beneficial change to its local communities As a social landlord Impact is concerned about the welfare of its residents and the long-term needs of the communities in which they live; with trained neighbourhood teams and floating support staff in daily contact with tenants there arises an ideal opportunity to advise low income households on energy efficiency and, as a result, reduce fuel costs for those homes.
The project was also recognised as an opportunity to bring structure to the training opportunities that have been a fundamental part of Impact’s Furniture Services, a recycling and reuse project which operates from four sites in Cumbria.

In addition to the delivery of energy awareness and recycling training, the project is working closely with other Cumbrian organisations to provide opportunities in renewable technologies and low carbon build training.

Energy Efficiency

Project objectives-

Inspire- domestic energy efficiency and insulating schemes as the most economic way to save carbon

Advise- low income households in energy saving techniques and insulation options

Train- frontline staff, to enhance their careers with a ‘green’ qualification in domestic energy advice

At the mid point in the programme the project has researched and developed a new qualification in Energy Awareness to meet the requirements of frontline staff in housing and social care agencies. The training is aimed at providing the knowledge and skills needed to advise low income households on saving energy and, as a result, tackling fuel poverty in Cumbria. The qualification has been accredited at level 2 through the national awarding body, Ascentis. The specific added value is that this is a bespoke course based on a single day training to meet the needs of staff with very little time and low budgets for training.

Already 198 trainees have attended the courses and achieved the level 2 accreditation; the trainees have come from a variety of organisations in the region including housing associations, local councils, Age Concern, Action for Blind People, Action with Communities in Cumbria and sustainable groups.

In response to requests from those already trained, an enhanced course in energy efficiency has now been developed and is being offered to those frontline staff who support low income households.

From February 2011 the project has started working closely with Cumbria Action for Sustainability, a Penrith based charity which inspires and enables community groups, households and businesses to take local action for environmental sustainability in Cumbria. CAfS recognise that In order to respond to the government’s targets on carbon reduction and mitigation, driven by the threat of climate change and its associated costs, that a fast transition to a low carbon society is needed. Through a range of discussions, presentations and training events part funded by ESF through the GreenWays project, CAfS hope to enable the shift to a low carbon Cumbria.

Recycling

Project objectives-

• Develop bespoke training packages to meet the needs of those working in, or hoping to enter, the recycling or reuse sectors.

• Create appropriate qualifications accredited at Level 1 and Level 2 which will become a legacy of the project.

• Deliver training which is adaptable and flexible to address the requirements of the recycling sector.

• Give sector employees the opportunity to access existing qualifications to increase the sustainability of their employment.


Impact has a network of recycling projects around Cumbria, employing 23 people, repairing and recycling 30,000 household items annually, these have proved to be the ideal training ground for practical delivery of the Level 2 Introduction to Recycling course which has been researched and developed by the GreenWays’ team. The course, whose content offers flexibility for the trainee, has been delivered in the workplace to minimise interruption to normal working practices.

14 trainees have successfully achieved the Level 2 qualification, accredited through Ascentis, the National Awarding Body. This qualification will continue to be available to volunteers and new staff at each of the 4 IFS sites in Cumbria.

A need for a level 1 course in reuse has now been identified for those hoping to enter this sector or undertaking a work placement; GreenWays has responded by developing the Introduction to Reuse course which should be accredited and ready for delivery in June.

The project has also provided an opportunity for 11 trainees to achieve a Chartered Institute of Wastes Management Waste Awareness Certificate and a further 8 to undertake WAMITAB NVQs in Recycling Operations.


Renewables

Project objectives-

Inspire-
• Advocacy: Act as an advocate for the use of wood as a heat source both with policy makers and heat users.
• Demonstration: lead, organise and market field studies and visits both sub regionally, regionally, nationally and international to inspire Cambrian’s to better harness wood as a renewable.
Advise/inform –
• Heat users: provide technical support and guidance to heat users considering wood as a heating option.
• Wood fuel supply businesses: provide technical support and guidance for those working in the manufacture and distribution of wood chips and firewood.
• Woodland owners: give technical advice and information to owners of undermanaged woodlands to help bring their woodlands into active management.
• Connect supply and demand: connect the supply chain with demand customers.

Train-
• Craft level training: for those working in or starting businesses in the wood fuel supply chain.
• Professional training (CPD): updating of skills focusing on bringing woodlands into management for the wood fuel sector.
• Wood fuel supply businesses: training for those working in the manufacture and distribution of wood chips and firewood.
• Heating engineers: training for those working in specification and installation of renewable technologies.

During the early part of the programme the project has been working with Cumbria Woodlands, a not for profit partnership which is the regional expert in woodfuel and woodland management, to deliver the renewables element of the project. The European Social Fund support has enabled Cumbria Woodlands to inspire, advise, inform and then train a range of customers varying from woodland owners, harvesting contractors to heat users and installers. By providing this range of activities the project is enabling woodfuel to play its part in helping the region move towards a low carbon economy
Following research into the skills requirements of other renewable sectors the project is now offering a series of renewable energy training programmes through Lakes College in the west of the county; 3 free courses are now on offer due to the commitment of ESF support. The courses are aimed at providing local businesses and employees with the skills to enable them to take full advantage of the opportunities arising from the development of West Cumbria’s Energy Coast.

216 free training places are available for courses in Solar Thermal Hot Water System installation, Domestic Heat Pump installation and Solar Photovoltaic Domestic installation, the courses will run until July 2012.