A group of 20 representatives from the Belgian Housing Authority, Zonninge Kempen were in St Leonards on Monday to learn about an energy advice and housing improvement project.
The group were from 11 local councils in Belgium.
They came to find out more about economic regeneration, improvements to local housing stock and working with local communities in St Leonards. Talks and presentations were given by officers from Hastings Borough Council and staff and volunteers from Citizens Advice 1066. The group then had a tour of Leolyn House which is due to be refurbished as part of the Coastal Space project and made available by Optivo as social housing.
Citizens Advice 1066, Hastings Borough Council and Optivo are partners in an European-funded project – Sustainable houses in an Inclusive Neighbourhood, or SHINE for short.
The project aims to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs by encouraging people to embrace energy saving techniques and retrofitting homes with energy saving improvements.
It is part of the Interreg 2 Seas programme involving communities across the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, with a local focus on St Leonards.
Tracy Dighton, CEO of Citizens Advice 1066, said: “It was a pleasure to talk to the people from Zonninge Kempen about the work of the CAB.
“Advice and welfare services are organised differently in Belgium so they were interested to hear from the volunteers about their work and their reasons for getting involved.
“The SHINE project is helping us make some changes to how we provide energy advice for the community and the Zonninge Kempen team have been able to share their learning with us. ”
Luc Stijnen, Director, Zonnige Kempen, commented: “It was very interesting to hear how Citizens advice 1066 manages their volunteers and if we can use this system in our society. Also how CA 1066 use people from their own community to reach out and make local connections.”
The common challenges facing the partners include: increasing energy use, fluctuating prices, fuel poverty, energy security and finite resources,
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