Launch of Hackney’s First Community Owned Solar Project

banister pic

Cakes, quiches, and pies: baked.

Music: played, sung, and danced to.

Stories: recounted and visions shared by local residents.

The Banister House Solar launch party was a roaring success! Over 70 people flooded into the Banister House Estate Community Centre on Tuesday March 31st. The banner – with a logo designed by youth from the Repowering internship programmes – hung proudly on the front door. Solar panels – made by Banister House Estate families and Hackney residents – adorned the walls, alongside photos of the making process. Food-prepared by residents and Banister House Solar members- gave the air a delicious aroma.

As you know, Repowering runs a two-phase programme with stakeholders. Firstly, Repowering works with Local Authorities to navigate their strategic context, resource planning, governance, scoping, procurement and finance procedures. Then Repowering runs a seven month engagement programme with local residents and community groups to develop robust organisations with viable business models, fuel poverty initiatives and skilling programmes. This two-phase programme with the Local Authority and community groups enables a co-production model that addresses and delivers the desired outputs for both stakeholders.

Over the past year, Repowering have had time to work with this community who have had more than their fair share of troubles. During the programme there have been multiple stabbings, the dissolution of the TRA and delivery debacle after debacle by Decent Homes and roof renewal contractor Lakehouse. In the face of all this, Tuesday night’s community energy launch party was a roaring success.

People from the Banister House Estate came out to hear about the project from fellow residents who had gone through the internship programme and had either got involved with the development team or had just loved the idea. It was a celebration of values, food, music and, above all, community empowerment.

The evening was not publicised to the wider Hackney community as we wanted to focus on the Banister House Estate Residents. Residents, founding team members and internship recipients gave other young people and community members a chance to understand and own this project in all its nuances, from the financial structure, to how it could help in their daily lives.

Ann Cannaii – Director of Banister House Solar, resident and TRA chair – shared her story, as well as spending the day providing food for the pensioner’s club and cooking food for the event (including her famous chicken), “It gives me a sense of pride and enormous pleasure being apart of the solar project. In Hackney we have taken a major step to develop our community and become leaders of energy saving and generation.” Ann then proceeded to spend the rest of the night dancing to the sound system her neighbour had set up for the night. Her 70-year old bones outlasting all the other dancers!

Victoria Omobuwajo, part of the internship and a local Hackney resident, not only shared her journey but designed and baked cakes and cupcakes for the occasion. “Being part of the Banister House Solar project has been the greatest opportunity I’ve had to date. Since joining I’ve learned great skills on how to build a successful project and gained fantastic work experience. I’ve loved meeting new people and getting a real sense of community because everyone has come together to make a project which benefits their neighbors.”

New father, resident and Director of Banister House Solar, Roger Wilfred, carried his 8-week old son proudly, sharing with neighbours the importance of investing in something like this for their children – as he had done.

But it was Banister House Estate tenant and another Director of Banister House Solar, Leila Fortunato’s speech that left the deepest impact on many: “I know what fuel poverty is because I’ve lived it! Over the last year being involved in setting up this community energy project I believe it will help take the power back into our own hands. Come join us.”

It was this stream of local voices telling their stories which made a lasting impact on those around them and resulted in raising over £4,000 on the night. £11,000 was also raised prior to the invitation to buy shares going out officially to anyone beyond the Banister House letter drop and since has reached £27,850 in 14 days.

Agamemnon Otero
Director of Repowering London and project manager for Banister House Solar

Running Order:

  • 18:00 Food
  • 18:40- 20:00 Presentations from speakers
  • 20:00 -21:00 Energy Advice Station: for residents to book free home energy audits and receive energy advice
  • 20- 21:30 Music & Dancing: two local Deejays and their sound system.
  • All food was locally sourced, the majority of which was cooked by residents on the Banister House Estate.

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Compere: Tor Kristoffersen

Speakers:

Agamemnon Otero: Banister House Solar Project manager, and Director of Repowering

Philip Pearson: Chair of Hackney Energy

James Diamond: Hackney resident

Leila Fortunato: Director of Banister House Solar, tenant of Banister House Estate, mother of three

(two of whom were in the internship programme)

Ann Canaii: Director of Banister House Solar, TRA chair, tenant of Banister House Estate

Millie Darling: Director of Banister House Solar, founder of Hackney Energy

Melissa Harflett: Director of Banister House Solar, lease holder on Banister House Estate

Victoria Omobuwajo: Internship participant and secretary of Hackney Energy (21 yrs)

Aisha Fortunato: Internship participant and Banister House resident (18 yrs)

Lanre Alafe: Internship participant and Hackney resident (16 yrs)

 

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