"Warm, friendly, reliable, and do what they say they do" : an evaluation of South Seeds' energy advocacy services

Keith Baker, Fraser Stewart

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

    Abstract

    The title of this report is a quote from one of the interviewees who kindly gave us some of their time to help with this evaluation. It neatly encapsulates the key themes that emerged from this evaluation – the extent to which the South Seeds’ team are embedded in the local community, the significant value this adds to the services they provide, and that while those services may be tied together by providing energy advice, they extend far beyond it.

    This evaluation is principally based on a series of interviews conducted in August and September 2017, as well as a wealth of material in hard copy and digital formats supplied by South Seeds. This included historic publications and internal data about the projects delivered by South Seeds since its inception. Indeed, one of challenges of writing this report has been capturing the sheer volume of work undertaken by the organisation, both in terms of delivering services and engaging with stakeholders.

    Of the conclusions we raise here, we expect that our finding no substantive criticism of South Seeds may invite some questions, and so we wish to stress that whilst it is of course impossible completely to rule out all clients having any criticisms, we have no reason to suspect that this is anything but an accurate reflection of how highly valued the organisation, and the staff, are by the local community.

    South Seeds’ ethos is fundamental to this, with trust built up not only through delivering an essential social service in an area where provision is otherwise lacking, but also through staff being actively engaged with a wide range of community activities as both employees and volunteers. We found that South Seeds is an exceptional example of the value of funding community-based organisations to deliver face-to-face and in-home energy demand reduction support. In addition, we also found that the key to its success is the degree to
    which the organisation and staff are embedded in the local community. As a result, they are both trusted by householders who would otherwise be Considered ‘hard to reach’ and make significant contributions to community building.

    Aside from one specific recommendation that is already being addressed, the issues we raise in the conclusions and recommendations are concerns rather than criticisms. Foremost amongst these, and one we, as independent Evaluators, hope this evaluation will enable support for, is securing sufficient financial and resource capacity to provide a ‘safety net’ to insure against risks such as gaps in future funding, staff becoming unavailable at short
    notice, etc. We have deliberately not been overly prescriptive with this recommendation as we recognise that South Seeds’ informal approach to partnering also fundamentally underpins its successes and we would in no way recommend a significant shift away from this. However, we also conclude that some form of more formal partnering, perhaps with Glasgow City Council, would serve as recognition of the value South Seeds provides to the local community, and of the value of sustaining the organisation over the long term.

    Finally, we hope that the findings of this evaluation will serve to both inform stakeholders of the value of sustaining South Seeds and similar community-based organisations, and of the need for them to engage more with these organisations to learn from the valuable knowledge and experience they have can provide.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationGlasgow Caledonian University
    PublisherSouth Seeds
    Number of pages35
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

    Keywords

    • energy advocacy

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