Training and workshops

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Training and workshops run by your group for the wider community can be a great way for people to learn about a topic in an involving way. This can be a powerful means of engagement, helping people to take control of their own actions and behaviours, and giving them the capacity and inspiration to spur future involvement in your project.

Ideas for types of training and workshops include:

Home and lifestyle. Training or workshops can encourage and enable people to live more sustainably. Potential topics could cover themes such as energy, food, transport and waste, providing tips on anything from energy efficient products and reducing your carbon footprint, to permaculture and composting.

Setting up and running community projects. Once your group have some experience under their belt, you may want to consider running a training session or workshop to inspire and help other people to set up their own community projects. You could provide tips on anything from how to professionalise, develop business plans, apply for grant funding, navigate the planning system or scale up projects. Alternatively, the focus could be more on generating and initiating ideas for local community projects and unlocking the community activist within!

Professional and work-related. Professional and work-related training or workshops could aim to help with upskilling and assisting people back into work, or to educate local businesses about sustainability and reducing environmental impacts. If you have an established project requiring day-to-day practical input from paid staff and/or volunteers, you could provide opportunities for those not in employment, education or training (NEETs) to gain work experience and skills that will help them into a job in the future (although this shouldn’t be taken on lightly – make sure you are in a position to do so and have the necessary resources and information to ensure a mutually beneficial and workable arrangement). You could even consider becoming an accredited training provider.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Abingdon Carbon Cutters hold ‘how to’ workshops on a range of topics from making a good compost heap, growing a lot of food in small spaces and reducing food waste, to cutting fuel bills, bike maintenance and installing solar panels. The workshops are designed to be participative, providing the opportunity for people to bring their own knowledge and experience to the table. Incorporating a coffee break with homemade cakes made using local ingredients provides an extra incentive for people to attend and also offers a useful networking opportunity, facilitating the building of community connections. The sessions usually start with inviting everyone to turn to the person sitting next to them to discuss why they have come and what they hope to get out of the workshop, and finish with talking in pairs about what they have learned. The workshops have proved very popular, sometimes attracting as many as 45 people, and they have found that a core group of people now regularly attend these events.

Country: Ireland

A number of members of Ard Easmuinn Residents Association in Dundalk came together to find out how they could get involved in the Dundalk 2020 project, a sustainable energy zone within the town funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) with the aim of achieving significant reductions in CO2 emissions. Ard Easmuinn approached the Dundalk 2020 Project Team to find out how they could help residents in their street save energy and money. A first public meeting was held and a target of 20% energy reductions by 2008 was set. Further stakeholders involved in the project included Power of One and ESB Customer Supply. Consultant Aodhan MacPaidin was hired by SEAI to train 8 families individually on how simple changes in behaviour can have a large impact on energy savings. Recognising that not all changes can take place at the same time, the consultant used a phased approach to train the families over 15 weeks. The training covered  five target areas:

  • Space heating (5 weeks)
  • Domestic hot water (4 weeks)
  • Small power (3 weeks)
  • Lighting (2 weeks)
  • Cooking (1 week)

 

Progress of these families was recorded and filmed and was to act as a case study for other families. A series of energy saving tip videos was created to help families become more energy efficient and communicate the message to the wider public. The families achieved energy savings of between 15-27%.