Preston shared economy grant awarded to Brookfield project
31 August 2023
Preston City Council has approved funding to support energy efficiency delivered by a new cooperative business on the Brookfield estate.
As part of the Advancing a Shared Economy in Preston (ASEP), Brookfield Spaceplace, a local charity which operates the Soundskills community centre on the estate, will receive £35,000. This is to establish the new cooperative venture and transform the centre into a showcase for the benefits of energy efficiency.
Driven by its commitment to address the need for new jobs on the estate and to address the energy crisis, Soundskills developed a project to establish a cooperative enterprise to improve the energy efficiency of local buildings and create new employment and training opportunities within a business owned and managed by its workforce.
Chris Davis, Project Coordinator at Soundskills, said:
"By creating the demonstrator site at a local base and involving people from the estate, the project will showcase retrofit in the community, deliver training to local people and introduce a way of doing business which is democratic because it gives all its workers an equal say in how the business is run. We hope this will create more demand for the cooperative's retrofit service on the estate which will benefit our community through good jobs and warmer homes."
The first phase of the project will focus on improving the energy efficiency of the Soundskills building itself, a process known as retrofitting.
The project will integrate delivery of the works with on-the-job training for three members of the new cooperative who all live on the estate. Soundskills raised half of the funding for the project through crowdfunding and applied to the council for a matching grant from the Advancing Shared Economy in Preston programme.
The project has been developed with people from the local community. Members of the cooperative include local residents, members of the Soundskills team and retrofit specialists who will train local people as retrofitters and retrofit assessors.
Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building, Councillor Valerie Wise, said:
"This project demonstrates our commitment to Community Wealth Building through partnership working with a community group to establish a business showcasing opportunities for local, skilled employment in a growing sector of the economy focussed on energy security and resilience to climate change.
"Cooperative businesses, which are a key part of Community Wealth Building, are democratic by definition which means that those who do the work of the business have an equal voice in deciding how it's run."
The Advancing Shared Economy in Preston received the funding from the national charitable trust, Power to Change.