ALIenergy is a regional energy agency and interface between communities, national organisations, government and European partners for Argyll and Bute. Working across the whole region, ALIenergy has developed a deep understanding of how to work effectively in a remote and often challenging environment to provide maximum benefits for the people in the local communities, especially those in vulnerable positions, frequently left behind by national schemes. ALIenergy has been successful in identifying, initiating and managing several energy efficiency programmes in Argyll and Bute, enabling individuals and communities to participate in energy saving activity. The ALIenergy team educate, advise and improve access to energy and budgetary knowledge and skills in order to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the area. By engaging with a mixture of public and private partners, community groups, academics and funders, ALIenergy has been able to build innovative collaborations that contribute to sustainability and increased resilience in the local energy economy.
ALIenergy has a unique network across social care, health professionals, schools, colleges, general public, community groups and local businesses that enables the organisation to be sustainable energy ambassadors to a very varied and wide audience. Consultation in peoples’ homes, liaising with other local third sector groups, local authorities and enterprises enables ALIenergy to have a widespread influence on the advancement of sustainable energy in everyday lives. Their work strengthens services already in place by raising awareness and increasing access and uptake to national support. ALIenergy engages hard to reach vulnerable people in a place they trust, feel safe and are open to accepting help. In addition they link closely with other organisations that deal with vulnerable and disadvantaged people through other area networks, (Argyll and Bute Advice Network- ABAN) that address different needs (such as health care, specialist debt advice, addiction advice, food banks, digital inclusion, adult literacy classes) thus making a real difference to many aspects of peoples’ lives and creating multiple and lasting impacts. The links with local and national organisations allow the advisors to provide a holistic approach. ALIenergy believe gaining trust and entry into someone's home should not be taken for granted and where ever possible try to maximise the support that is offered. An advice session could include discussions on building maintenance, renovation, safety, reducing isolation and health and wellbeing, for example ALIenergy may make a referral to the local Fire Service for free fire safety checks, or signpost people to local activities and groups. This ALIenergy model is similar to the 'Link Worker' approach in that the staff are embedded into local communities and networks so they know who is doing what and where, and can therefore maximise benefits and support to the clients.
In addition ALIenergy shares the learnings, experience and good practice, developed within our work with vulnerable people, with other providers of energy advice and we have close links with other agencies across Scotland, UK and Europe. Our model can be replicated elsewhere in different locations with varying organisations.