Based in Worthing, West Sussex, Care for Veterans is a 60-bed facility providing 24-hour nursing and therapy services, 365 days per year, to some of the most vulnerable and disabled ex-Service personnel in the country. The nature of the charity’s work and the size of the facility meant that its energy bills were in the region of £96,000 per year.
Care for Veterans’ CEO, Andy Neaves, explains, “As we celebrate our centenary and all that the charity has achieved, we must also plan for the future to ensure that we are here for disabled ex-Service personnel for the next 100 years. With over £1.9m to raise annually, we are always looking at ways in which we can raise money and also reduce our expenditure, to ensure sustainability. We had already begun to think about our environmental impact on the local community and so initiated our ‘Green Project’, which was created to not only reduce our expenditure, but also ensure we are doing all we can to lessen our environmental impact as much as possible.”
Following an Energy Audit by The Carbon Trust, Care for Veterans was advised to install solar panels on the roof of the building. Such a system starts saving money from the moment it is installed and, as well as reducing energy costs, will generate a sustainable source of income for the charity of around £138,000 over the first five years. Furthermore, it will save approximately 137.5 tonnes of carbon being emitted into the local environment during those five years, which will greatly benefit the local community.
Care for Veterans was delighted when the first major contribution to the costs of the project came in a grant of £50,000 from the Rampion Fund at Sussex Community Foundation. With its 116 turbines and 400MW installed capacity, Rampion Offshore Wind Farm is the first offshore wind farm off the south coast of England and was very happy to support a green project in this area.
Chris Tomlinson, Development & Stakeholder Manager at Rampion Offshore Wind said, “This is exactly the kind of project that we wanted the Rampion Fund to support – raising awareness of the role that small-scale renewable energy can play in tackling climate change while supporting local community needs. The cost savings that will be made by Care for Veterans in the years to come will be multiples of the initial £50,000 grant investment, meaning that the charity can spend less on energy and more on services for veterans”.
“It has been so inspiring to see the lead that Care for Veterans has taken with their adoption of green energy strategies, in particular the solar panels,” said Kevin Richmond, Sussex Community Foundation, Chief Executive. “Since the Rampion Fund was established at Sussex Community Foundation it has enabled us to fund projects like this that we would have been unable to support before. It is truly sustainable funding because the cost savings the solar panels will bring mean the grant will ‘give’ over and over again, down the years. We are particularly delighted to have been able to make it.”
There was more cause for celebration, when Care for Veterans found out that a private family trust was to generously donate the final £63,000 needed to complete the project.
Elizabeth Baxter, Head of Fundraising and Marketing, said, “We really are very grateful to the Rampion Fund at Sussex Community Foundation for getting us started and to the private family trust whose generous donation enabled us to complete the installation of the solar panels. Without their generous support, we would not have been able to undertake this very important project. On day one of the completion of the project, we generated 38% of our energy needs from the panels, all from green energy, which is amazing.”
SAS ENERGY, National Solar PV Installer of the Year, designed the energy saving installation, and installed it without interrupting the charity’s activities.
Care for Veterans has developed an environmental and sustainability policy, which aims to make a difference to the environmental issues that we all face. The charity has made a pledge to reduce its energy consumption, to benefit both the veterans it looks after, and acknowledge its responsibility to a cleaner environment for both the local community and the country as a whole. The charity is also replacing its old lighting system with energy-efficient LED lighting, is compacting and recycling all its cardboard waste, has banned the use of single use plastic bottles on its premises, and now has paper cups at all drinking fountains rather than plastic ones. The new washing machines in the laundry use less energy and less water, and its pop-up charity shop stalls sell second hand items, which may have been thrown away and gone into landfill sites.
CEO Andy Neaves said, “Our Green Project saves money and generates income that can be better spent on the care and rehabilitation of our veterans, many of whom are facing the toughest battle of their lives. It is also helping the local community that we have been a part of, and which has been supporting us, for many years. We are so grateful to the Rampion Fund at Sussex Community Foundation and the private family trust for enabling us to undertake such an important project and they can rest assured that each year the positive impact of this project will continue to grow and benefit all of us in our community.”
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