Our Plymouth volunteer scheme shortlisted for APSE Service Awards


Our Plymouth, which launched as part of Cities of Service, is up for an APSE award.

Our Plymouth, which launched as part of Cities of Service, is up for an APSE award.

A volunteer scheme in Plymouth which has improved access to healthy fruit and vegetables and saved local people thousands on their energy bills has been shortlisted for a national award.

The Our Plymouth pilot scheme is a finalist in the Best Community and Neighbourhood Initiative category for the APSE Service Awards 2016, which takes place in Londonderry on 8 September, and will be up against seven others including Aberdeen City Council and the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Paul O’Brien, APSE Chief Executive, was delighted to see such a high calibre of entries this year. He said, “Despite the issues local government faces at this present moment, it is wonderful to see such exciting projects being carried out by so many dedicated people. These finalists are a credit to their councils and their communities.”

Councillor Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities for Plymouth City Council, and the new Our Plymouth Ambassador, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Council has been nominated for this prestigious national award for the Our Plymouth volunteer scheme.

“It’s been a great success and we look forward to taking the next phase of the scheme forward in the city.”

Darin Halifax, Chief Cities of Service Officer for Plymouth, said: “All the partner organisations and volunteers have worked really hard to make Our Plymouth a success so this nomination is for everyone involved.”

Our Plymouth was originally the name of the local ‘Cities of Service’ scheme, originally named after an initiative pioneered by New York’s former Mayor Bloomberg. Plymouth City Council was one of seven cities across the UK that successfully applied to become a City of Service, with funding from Nesta and the Cabinet Office for an18 month pilot period from October 2014. The two main schemes under Our Plymouth were Grow, Share, Cook and Energy Champions.

Our Grow Share Cook partners at a celebration event at Plumer House earlier this year.

Our Grow Share Cook partners at a celebration event at Plumer House earlier this year.

  • Grow, Share, Cook involved the mobilisation of volunteers to grow more fresh fruit and vegetables, the development of community gardens and the distribution of the food to those in need, as well as healthy cookery sessions. Since it was launched, the scheme recruited 117 volunteers, and through the Grow, Share, Cook initiative,103 of Plymouth’s most disadvantaged families received a fortnightly delivery of free fruit and vegetables to their door, almost 20,000 portions of fruit and vegetables were given to people, and more than 1,300 people were fed including families receiving the fortnightly delivery. The Council’s partners for Grow, Share, Cook were Tamar Grow Local, Food Is Fun, and Plymouth Community Homes.
  • Energy Champions – Working in partnership with Plymouth Energy Community (PEC), this project recruited volunteers to provide advice to local people on saving money on energy bills. Although PEC already had recruited some Energy Champions and had 1,200 members, they needed more to have the required impact, and, with the backing of Cities of Service, the scheme recruited 53 Energy Champion Community Volunteers, 1,384 people received energy advice, savings per household of £178, and in total saving people around £246,000 per year.
An Energy Champions session with PEC up at Schneider Electrics.

An Energy Champions session with PEC up at Schneider Electrics.

Although the national Cities of Service funding has now finished, Plymouth City Council is committed to continuing the Our Plymouth volunteer scheme for the next year.

Councillor Downie added: “Cities of Service was an 18-month funded project and Plymouth was one of only seven cities in the UK selected to participate, so we have been extremely fortunate to benefit from this scheme, but we always knew that national funding was for a limited time only.

“Plymouth City Council is, however, still committed to the scheme and is providing some funding for 2016/17 to enable it to continue.”

More information on the APSE awards and a list of finalists is available here.

To find out more about Our Plymouth, contact Darin Halifax on 01752 305446 or email darin.halifax@plymouth.gov.uk  

The Our Plymouth website can be accessed at www.ourplymouth.co.uk

More information on Plymouth Energy Community and the Energy Champions scheme is at www.plymouthenergycommunity.com