Looking to find renewable and efficient energy initiatives running for the good of the community, M&S Energy once again partnered with Crowdfunder to support these inspiring projects and support them in funding their great ideas.


Launching in 2008 to offer customers simple tariffs and good value for money alongside the excellent customer service they already know and love, M&S Energy soon went on to also introduce their Community Energy Fund, which aims to enable communities across the UK to generate energy and become environmentally and financially sustainable.


This year, the M&S Energy Fund ran as a competition in partnership with Crowdfunder, to raise awareness of energy concerns and showcase the proactive approach of local communities in working together on environmentally sustainable solutions.


After completing the application process, the chosen finalists are now live and crowdfunding to bring the benefit of renewables and energy efficiency to their area, whilst also competing for the prize money of £10,000 that’s on offer for just two of these community projects. There’s £5,000 up for grabs for each project with either the Most Supporters or the Most Raised, so be sure to keep up to date with the leaderboard to find out who’s taking the top spots!  


Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of M&S Energy, said, “Our community energy fund has grown from strength to strength over the last three years. Last year the project reached new heights, with over 120,000 votes for local community projects bidding for our support for some incredibly innovative ideas. We want to continue the success – this year we are working with Crowdfunder to find two community projects that either have the most supporters or who raise the most money for their cause. The two winning projects will win a £5,000 grant to turn their idea into action – our customers’ support has never been so valuable.”


As this year’s finalists get underway with crowdfunding to truly make a difference in their community, let’s take a look at the projects that you can support.


School Wasteland to Wonderland

The transformation of Wickhambreaux School’s unused outdoor space would create a safe, quiet place for calmness and creativity, away from the hustle and bustle of the schools only existing play area that is used as a football court and unsuitable for younger children to play on. The construction of an Eco-Hub equipped with a wind-turbine and solar panel would make an inspiring outdoor classroom and would also introduce Wickhambreaux’s next generation of aspiring young scientists to the wonders and tremendous potential of sustainable energy.


Chloe from Wickhambreaux School said, “Through crowdfunding, we want to share our project and the desires of the school with the wider community. We hope that projects like ours will also inspire others to think about how we can improve our children’s understanding about the environment. We have had such encouraging comments from supporters already who have referred to our Crowdfunder campaign as a small project with a big idea.”


Renewable Energy for Amersham Band’s new band room

A social and cultural hub enjoyed by all, the Amersham Brass Band has been enriching the community with concerts and other events since 1845. With the existing space due for closure, this project is a perfect opportunity for Amersham to have a top-tier music facility and cultural resource, harnessing an Air Source Heat Pump and underfloor heating system in the new design. The new band room would ensure the continuation of this significant community hub whilst also improving the accessibility of learning music throughout the local community, especially for young people, senior citizens and those from less fortunate backgrounds.


Caroline from Amersham Band said, “We’re looking to construct a purpose-built rehearsal and teaching facility in Amersham and are excited to be adding renewable energy to our building with the installation of an air source heat pump and underfloor heating. Music can bring many benefits to individuals, from teaching teamwork, perseverance and self-confidence to social support through reducing social exclusion and increasing community cohesion.”


Longlands Roundhouse Build

Kit Harington (aka Jon Snow) is helping Longlands to raise funds for a new base. They have already changed the lives of many vulnerable young people and your support will enable them to support many more by transforming their facilities. Working alongside Longlands staff and volunteers, individuals can develop skills for animals and farm work leading to real qualifications. The new Roundhouse, a unique, eco-friendly structure made of natural materials, will provide a nurturing environment for students to study in, a kitchen and eating area where the young people can learn to cook and share a meal during the day, as well as a calm space to work with students on a one to one basis.


Jo from Longlands said, “Longlands is hoping to raise enough money to build our eco-friendly Roundhouse, here on the farm. The Roundhouse will be a unique structure made almost entirely from sustainable materials, sourced from both the farm itself and the surrounding local area. It will comprise of straw bale and cob walls, a locally sourced timber structure, wool insulation and a wood burning stove. By raising money through Crowdfunder, we hope to be able to start work on the structure and ultimately provide a safe, calm space for our students and vulnerable young people to come together to cook, eat and study.”



Harborough Solar One

Harborough Solar One are working towards a cleaner, greener district whilst generating funding to help fight fuel poverty. This crowdfunding campaign will contribute towards the fees of running a share offer, where people will be offered the opportunity to invest in a 150kw project working with a local joinery firm. With planning permission and a legal agreement with NBJ (the local firm) already in place, the solar panel installation can begin with dedicated local solar installers as soon as the shares are raised. Here’s to a bright (and hopefully sunny) future!


Gavin from Harborough Solar One said, “I hope that working on a Crowdfunder campaign as part of our Community Energy share offer process will give us twice the excitement, half the heartache and a whole load more people engaging with our project! I hope that crowdfunding will allow us to generate a fantastic group of supporters, making the whole process a less turbulent experience. Whilst I enjoy sparkly new solar panels and clean energy, what this is really about is people – lots of people and ownership. It’s about the wonderful things that happen when there is a different way of doing things and people really get behind it – the more people who own a share of more diverse community powered energy generation, the less of the energy we all rely on will be owned by big profit making interests. Join in, what’s not to like?”


Powering Farnham Community Farm Forward

The fresh, locally sourced produce of Farnham Community Farm is grown with and for the community, dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of veg! The farm also offers wonderful opportunities for young people and adults living with disabilities such as autism, to embrace the great outdoors through volunteer placements. Since relocating to a new site, the farm has started again from scratch, and with huge demand and ample land available just twenty more members would mean the farm could become entirely self-sufficient. However, current resources mean that the farm is limited to just providing for just sixty houses, which is where crowdfunding comes in.



Bus shelter Ipswich Introduces CHEYS

Looking to replicate the success of their first bus conversion project, The Bus Shelter Ipswich is a compassionate community organisation which provides beds and 24/7 support for rough sleepers. They provide the homeless with essentials such as dry clothes and toiletries, as well as guidance specific to their individual needs. With the help of the public, they can offer many more opportunities such as voluntary work to help build a CV, courses and materials for hobbies or driving lessons. Working with the motivation and drive of the individuals in need, The Bus Shelter Ipswich give the helping hand and support network needed to ensure their guests long term wellbeing. To keep their carbon footprint to an absolute minimum, they are now looking to add solar panels, leisure batteries and inverters to their initiative.


Solar for Dracaena

The Fal Energy Partnership (FEP) is a community energy company who wants to put solar panels on the roof of the Dracaena Centre in the heart of Falmouth, so that it can save money on electricity, and spend more on the community of 120 people who use the centre everyday instead. From a café to their special Olympics, The Dracaena centre offers a wide array of activities with the aim of creating a mutually supportive community of happy, healthy residents.


Charlton Marshall New Village Hall

The Charlton Marshall community want to build a new village hall for recreational, educational and well-being activities for all the community. The hall will also create a space for various activities and sports clubs, mother and toddler groups, a safe place for youth sessions and much more. On top of this, the hall will feature a commercial kitchen which will not only attract foodie events, but also provide for a local lunch club and valuable social opportunities for the elderly community. The new hall would have solar panels powering a Hybrid Air Source Heat Pump for underfloor heating and energy saving LED lighting throughout the building.


Pam said, “We hope that the wider community will want to support the project with a donation of any amount after reading what the new village hall will be offering. This carefully planned new hall will be an asset where everyone will benefit, from now and well in to the future.”


• Ready to get started with your own Crowdfunder project? Start crowdfunding here.