Every donation added to the Solar Schools website takes a school closer to becoming a flagship for clean energy in their community. And each new face proudly displaying their support is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the huge amount of activity going on at all of our schools. So, it makes sense that each time a new supporter, business or event appears it's cause for celebration.
But, some donations come with just a little more fanfare than others. On Wednesday 23rd January, after 14 weeks of hard work, incredible community buy-in, and a string of events that would put Time Out to shame, Barnes Primary uploaded the profits from a snowy sponsored run and smashed through their fundraising target! We now have the first finisher of the national roll out, and they couldn't be more thrilled with the support the project has been shown.
Solar Schools provides the training, support and resources that teams at schools across England and Wales need to crowdfund the cost of installing solar panels. Dedicated volunteers attend trainings, trawl through 'how-to-packs' and get to grips with their page on the Solar Schools website... and then the hard work begins. So just how did Barnes do it?
- They put having fun at the top of their to do list. Fundraising (and generally tackling climate change!) can be a tough slog, the least you can do is let people wear their pyjamas...
- They made it easy for everybody to get involved. From regular communcations, through inclusive events to loose change collections, absolutely every pupil (and hopefully parent) at Barnes has been given the chance to be part of something incredibly exciting.
- Through Solar Schools (and 10:10), we provide the tools and support people need to make things happen in their communities. Barnes are an incredible example of taking those tools and applying them in a way that works for them. It's the same approach that we can all take to carbon cutting - we can't do everything, all of the time, but we can make strategic decisions towards doing our bit.
So, what does hitting a fundraising target mean - for Barnes and maybe, even for you? Well firstly, it means that before this summer (and all the sunshine that will bring... fingers crossed), a primary school in Richmond will start to cover a proportion of their electricity requirements with homegrown clean energy - a feat made possible by the support of the pupils, parents and community around them. The subsequent electricity bill savings and Feed-in Tariff payments the school will receive for the next 20 years, can be gratefully ploughed straight back in to the school, cushioning them against ever shrinking school budgets. And what of those cute pupils? They've witnessed first hand what can be achieved with hard work and passion. Now they get to learn in a little microcosm of positive action on climate change - a case study of the progress communities are taking towards a more sustainable future.
And for you? We hope that Solar Schools is just the beginning. The team at Barnes have worked their socks off on top of demanding school schedules because they care about the future of their young people - at school and beyond. Now, each of us can do our bit to ensure that those pupils grow up in a sustainable, low carbon UK - by reducing our own demand at home or at work, creating our own renewable power or keeping the pressure on parliament to clean up our ageing electricity grid.