Community Energy Projects

Image 1Midsummer and a far cry from the dark days of a northern winter. So maybe not the best time to think about energy and energy savings.

When we heard about community and energy we began to sit up from our sun loungers( only joking!) and start thinking about how communities in all shapes and sizes can take more control over their energy sources and become more efficient.

There are many benefits, the most obvious being coming together as a group to make savings and to use the knowledge and skills of many people to benefit the whole community.

There are now moves to work with, for examples, Parish Councils to engage with their community and become the mover of a community energy project. The team at Community Pathways have a great source of documents to support and develop the projects.

In our partnership, we work with people and community organisations to deliver benefits to the communities and the agencies that support them.

We see the potential impact of these projects in a number of ways; using volunteers, bringing together expertise in skills and knowledge, using local business and groups, working with people across age groups and across family involvements.

There is nothing like making a saving to ensure that people will become active. And this way it can be the community that will be the real winner.



Sue Martin FRSA- SmithMartin Partnership LLP

A Quiet Revolution

Image 1What happens in communities when funding for projects is cut back? When plans and development for new centres no longer happens and the traditional means of support is withdrawn, what is the real impact?

Image of Granard Children’s Centre with Maggie Darling, Daycare Trust event at Speaker’s House, London.

Many community based projects started to improve people’s lives and increase opportunities, especially in areas of need, have seen major cut backs in the last two years.

Many projects are still continuing, even without the support that was originally in place. People are people, and in England the spirit of togetherness and helping each other still exists, plans are still taking place.

Quiet revolutions have happened before, a film from Soka Gakkai International shows that even one person’s actions can make a dramatic difference. Narrated by UN Sec. General Kofi Annan and narrated by Meryl Streep, this prize winning film is worth a look.

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…feeling powerless to affect the crisis facing humanity, many do nothing.

But a growing number of ordinary people are carrying out a quiet revolution.”

Our partnership, SmithMartin Partnership LLP, works directly with people in communities, we are committed to providing support and enabling achievement and aspirations.

There is a real sense of a quiet revolution, which continues the deliver the good work, to support families and young people, a revolution to bring people together but in a quiet and non demonstrative way.

From experience people do feel ‘let down’ by authorities that had been so supportive and now have changed directions. But a sense of community togetherness has been engendered and working together to support each other has been enhanced.

The Sure Start Children’s Centre initiative is a good example and recent news in ‘Children and Young People Now’ indicates there is a reduction of over 400 since the coalition government was formed.
But of those 400, only 25 have actually closed and London has been the worst hit. Many centres have been combined and formed into clusters with one leader and reduced staff across the cluster, but the work, the contact and the initiative still continues.

Centres in London that we work with have seen major reductions in staffing which has inevitably led to some activities and services being reduced. But the centres are still vibrant and diverse communities, offering provision that is most needed by their families.

Looking ahead with a wider perspective…. there are opportunities to apply for funding for community projects and with the right organisation and structures in place chances exist to support projects, to encourage attainment and aspiration to help people’s lives.

A future through this quiet revolution is possible and will happen through people just like you and me.

Sue Martin

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Daycare Trust and Family Parenting Institute to form one new organisation

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The Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute are to merge under a new name from next year, the charities have announced.

(Image courtesy of Daycare Trust)

This is exciting news for all involved in childcare and the needs of families in our country. Whilst retaining all the excellent campaigning and research arm of Daycare Trust, there will be direct linkage with the needs of families and parents from the Family and Parenting Institute.

Now,when so many families are finding life harder than ever,the new organisation will have enormous scope for improving lives.

Chief executive of the Daycare Trust, Anand Shukla, will lead the organisation from January 2013, when a new name and brand for the charity will be launched.

“I am very excited by the opportunity of leading the combined work of two organisations which have such a significant track record in campaigning for childcare and families, and which have both succeeded in securing concrete improvements in policy and service delivery,” he said.

Congratulations from SmithMartin Partnership LLP

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High Rents and Nowhere to Live

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The storm around the benefit cap to start in April 2013 made some good headlines this week. The expense of living in rented accommodation at that price is hard for everyone.


We welcome the comments made by Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent in London in Sunday’s Observer. A brave decision to voice real concerns and takes some conviction and an empathetic understanding for the families she meets.

Some of the free London papers were full of letters denouncing all who find themselves on benefits and living in expensive accomodation, when hard working people can’t afford rents at over £500 per week.

There is no escape that this is a considerable rent charge. But is it the only answer, not to pay people benefits. Most of the rented accommodation is private, the owners are the real economic winners. When there was more social housing, for example, accommodation was easier to find and at a more realistic rent, or could there be a cap on rents to be charged?

Certainly the consequences in April will be large, the thought of disrupting family life by a major move to lower rent areas across the country is hugely problematic with moral concerns for all those in the implementation.

Schools in many areas are already being affected, large increases in pupil numbers in areas where children and families have been moved.

A winter of considerable discontent ahead for many.

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Having an Idea!

A Wordle - ideas expressed

You know that moment when suddenly the most brilliant idea comes into your head? What happens from then can either make the idea come alive or it remains dormant.

Two young people who have had brilliant ideas and been able to put them into practice are Pavegen founder Laurence Kemball-Cook and Raspberry Pi co -creator, Eben Upton.

In the Royal Society for the Arts publication this Autumn, 2012, they talked about their thoughts on establishing a working model for their ideas. Both are now proven and making great strides in improving lives using technology.

But without the ‘good idea’ even technology is unable to change and improve how we live; although it can be the ‘tool box’ and make the idea possible.

So what are the principles needed? Where does a good idea go from here? How steely are your nerves? Because once your idea takes off it can explode into a hungry world.
And how do you ‘hang on’ to the originality and ensure the idea is not swallowed up by larger and wealthier organisations?

Both Laurence Kemball Cook and Eben Upton share similar approaches; the ideas they conceived were alongside other original work, they had the intrigue to follow the idea, they sought funding which would enable the idea to take shape but not so big that they lost control and they were prepared to deviate in the development when needed.

Pavegen is a new concept using flooring and people’s steps to produce energy.
Raspberry Pi is an affordable credit card sized computer that can be used in schools to teach technology.
Both on their way to success and will make a huge difference to people’s lives.

Lots of ideas are already finding their way into our global technological society. Never easy but if you have an idea, it could be the very one to change the life for someone out there.

Tocare el cielo con dito‘  Touch the sky with your finger tips!

Sue Martin FRSA

SmithMartin Partnership LLP Creative, entrepreneurial and flexible and pleased to work with RSA in promotion of ‘free thinkers‘.

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