Phil Beardmore introduces the Birmingham Sustainable Energy Partnership (BSEP), a group of organisations who saw the need for people to work together to fight climate change and enable the people of Birmingham to meet their energy needs in an affordable and sustainable way.


BSEP was officially launched in May 2003 with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy, and bringing affordable warmth to disadvantaged households.

The Partnership is run by a steering group made up of representatives of Birmingham City Council, Central Midlands Energy Efficiency Advice Centre EAGA Partnership, Groundwork Birmingham, and National Energy Action. It's objectives were to facilitate partnership working among organisations across all sectors and a joined-up approach; empower non-environmental community-based organisations to help deliver these aims; foster greater ownership of energy management within communities; bring in resources to enable partners and stakeholders to deliver additional partnership working; and share information, skills and knowledge.

Although BSEP has only been in existence for less than one year, its partner organisations are already starting to work more closely together than previously; in the longer term, we expect this to have a major impact on partners' ability to deliver. We aim to emulate what the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes has achieved on a national scale, bringing together expertise from all those with an interest in saving energy.

Community energy support
Community-based organisations are in an excellent position to help get the energy saving message across. With funding from the SEED Programme, BSEP has set up the Community Energy Support Programme. This aims to empower community organisations to inform people about how they can save money, keep warm and protect the environment. We do this through helping organisations to develop new projects, and encouraging partnership working between energy efficiency organisations and community organisations.

Community based organisations have local knowledge that leads to better project design and therefore saves money; they already understand the links between energy saving and the other issues facing local communities. Bringing together the differing skills of energy professionals with community workers generates innovative and successful projects. A number of voluntary and community organisations in Birmingham, including Birmingham Settlement, St Paul's Community Development Trust, Hazran Sultan Bahu Trust, and Saltley & Washwood Heath Practical Care Project, have a track record of energy-saving work.

We will be working with 20 voluntary and community organisations in the next year. One of these, Community Advocacy Support and Advice (CASA), is a community-based advice organisation working in Sparkbrook, Sparkhill and Small Heath. CASA offers advice on welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment, education, health and community safety to economically excluded communities who have difficulties in accessing services. CASA's clients include some of the most vulnerable people in the community including ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers.

BSEP and CASA have worked together to attract a grant of £14,481 from npower's Health Through Warmth scheme. This will enable CASA to offer energy efficiency advice as part of a holistic approach to the welfare needs of disadvantaged people. Sparkbrook, Sparkhill and Small Heath wards suffer from multiple disadvantage, including high rates of fuel poverty.

Thanks to the grant, CASA will be able to offer energy advice to more than 2,500 households, and aims for more than 600 households to undergo energy efficiency improvements that will enable people to heat their homes affordably and reduce the risk of cold and damp related illnesses. The project will also be able to offer skilled and meaningful work to local people.

If you would like more information about BSEP, or if you represent a community group that would like to develop an energy efficiency or renewable energy project, please contact Phil Beardmore on 0121 262 6408, email me at

Phil Beardmore

Renewable energy
Did you know that you can now receive grants towards the cost of installing renewable energy in homes, public buildings and businesses? Grants are available for the following energy-saving technologies:

  • Solar hot water systems
  • Solar electricity (photovoltaic)
  • Wind
  • Biomass
  • Ground Source Heat Pumps

For more information, phone the Central Midlands Renewable Energy Advice Service on 0121 553 6373, email, or visit