Island hopping to meet our customers

Brian Barker, Changeworks’ Home Energy and Partnership Liaison Officer

Brian Barker, Changeworks’ Home Energy and Partnership Liaison Officer

Our Argyll and Bute-based Home Energy and Partnership Liaison Officer Brian Barker reports on his short but epic trips last month to the islands of Jura and Tiree to provide in-home advice:

I made three home visits to customers: two on Tiree and one on Jura. All three properties were G rated for energy efficiency, my ‘worst’ week since I started in terms of energy efficiency standards. They are a typical example of the condition of housing in remote areas and how difficult it is to improve their energy efficiency because of difficulties with access and costs of materials.

I flew to Tiree – avoiding 10 hours of travel time by ferry which also allowed me more time to make the visits and avoid an overnight stay. The properties were a 1920s concrete house – built to a price rather than a standard (as the owner described it to me) – and an old church going through conversion. The plane popped in to Coll airport en route.

The flight over Tiree

The flight over Tiree

I hired a boat to get to Jura to visit an off-grid property. This avoided around 12 hours of travel – which would have taken 2 days by public transport!

The boat Brian hired

The boat Brian hired

The types of visits and places I end up are pretty remote and wild with plenty of wildlife, including white tailed sea eagles. There have even been instances of wind turbines disappearing in winter gales. This environment, stunning though it is, offers daily challenges and additional costs, meaning people are more likely to be in fuel poverty.

Stunning scenery on Tiree

Stunning scenery on Tiree

People off-grid often face transport issues: if you can’t get diesel delivered to top up your generator, you need to decant and transport the diesel yourself in 50 litre cans, 500 litres at a time, from a point that can be miles from home.

So, the folk that we’re visiting are the ones that really need our help and support. For them, because of their remote location, everything is more expensive and harder to get to. Having a service that comes out to them can make a real difference to their lives.

I need to make sure advice is right for each customer. I look at all sorts of solutions that can be adopted, helping them work out which combination is best for them. There’s no magic formula, it’s a complicated puzzle and it’s my job to help them figure out the best combination of energy solutions for their home.

- Brian

If you, or someone you know, would like energy efficiency advice or a renewables home visit call the Home Energy Scotland advice centre on 0808 808 2282.

Meet David, one of our Waste Wise Volunteers!

David is one of our team of volunteers whose efforts have helped make a number of our waste projects a success. He is a volunteer with the Waste Wise Volunteer project, which works in four local communities in Edinburgh and the Lothians, including Craigmillar and Niddrie Marishal, Boghall, Penicuik and three Edinburgh University halls of residence. The project aims to encourage residents to reduce and recycle waste. It is funded by Zero Waste Scotland.

To find out a bit more about David and what makes him tick, we asked him a few questions.

David, Waste Wise Volunteer

David, one of Changeworks’ Waste Wise Volunteers

Hi David! What do you do as a Waste Wise Volunteer?
I help raise awareness in both recycling and food waste reduction

What interested you in becoming a Waste Wise Volunteer?
Humans have a significant impact on the natural world. I wanted to help raise awareness on how we can reduce our impact so that future generations have the opportunity to live in the world we do today.

What do you like about volunteering with Changeworks?
It provides an excellent and valuable training opportunity. The training I have been provided with not only helps me when volunteering with Changeworks, but also future jobs opportunities.

How long have you been a Changeworks volunteer?
I’ve been a Waste Wise Volunteer since December 2013

Where did you first hear about the project?
I saw it on Changeworks website.

Where would you most like to go in the British Isles and why?
The Isle of Skye due to the variety of flora and fauna found there. You truly do feel like you are in the wild!

Tell us about something you really, really like
Football (playing and watching)

Which of the Changeworks organisational values (passion, integrity, innovation, collaboration and empowerment) do you most identify?
Passion because how can you expect someone to believe what you’re saying if you are not passionate about it.

What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoying hill walking, cycling and running in my spare time. I also volunteer with various wildlife groups.

What makes you smile?
When the football team I support wins (which they never do!)

Do you have a message for your fellow volunteers?
Be keen and willing! This always makes the experience more enjoyable for yourself and everyone else.

Thank you David for your help and support and for being such a passionate, ‘keen and willing’ volunteer!

If you’d like to volunteer with Changeworks, check the list of all current volunteering opportunities on our website. If you would like to know more about becoming a Waste Wise Volunteer, call 0131 555 4010 or e-mail