The Children’s Society and Northern Gas Networks join forces to help Bradford families in fuel poverty

Hundreds of vulnerable families in Bradford who are struggling to heat their homes could benefit from a pioneering partnership between The Children’s Society and Northern Gas Networks, the gas distribution company for the north of England.

More than 10,000 children in Bradford are estimated to live in families suffering from energy debt1 and the partnership between the charity, a leading campaigner on fuel poverty, and Northern Gas Networks, aims to identify and help vulnerable families through a range of measures.

The pilot scheme, which will offer energy debt and benefits advice, free gas connections for households that are off-grid, and community workshops where people can learn about energy efficiency and the risks of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, was launched by the Bishop of Bradford on Friday 13 February.

According to research by The Children’s Society, the impact of fuel poverty can be devastating, with families unable to give their child a hot bath or cook them a hot meal. Children living in fuel debt are more likely to become ill or have trouble sleeping and their parents are at risk of stress, anxiety and depression.2

Vulnerable families who need support from the scheme will also be referred to the project by the children’s centres and professionals such as health visitors and social workers.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, says: “Fuel poverty has become the scourge of our time with families unable to give their children a hot meal, a warm bath and keep them healthy, and we’ve identified Bradford as an area in real need.

“We’re delighted to partner with NGN on this vital project which will bring affordable warmth to local families and vulnerable children and help many escape the energy debt trap.”

Tom Bell, Head of Social Strategy for Northern Gas Networks, says: “Fuel poverty is a huge issue in our region. The partnership will provide a crucial vehicle for Northern Gas Networks to identify families living in cold, poorly heated and badly insulated homes by tapping into the information that the charity holds through its vital outreach work.”

Toby Howarth, the Bishop of Bradford, says, “Through my work in churches across Bradford, I know only too well of families in poverty struggling to afford to heat their homes. This is a great initiative that will make a huge difference to vulnerable families.”

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. Natalie Williams, Dr Sarah Royston, David Ayre and Dr Sam Royston for The Children’s Society, ‘Show some warmth’ Report, The Children’s Society, January 2015, http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/resources-and-publications/show-some-warmth-full-report
  2. Ibid
  • This pilot has emerged in light of new research by The Children’s Society and the Association for Conservation of Energy which reveals that Children’s Centres can be helpful in engaging fuel poor families. This is because of their location (77% of fuel poor children live within a mile of a children’s centre). This is also because staff are considered trusted and because, as children’s centres already offer a wide range of services, it means the scheme can be promoted to fuel poor families.