We’re involved in a range of activity to help our customers stay warm and support those living in fuel poverty.
- Teaming up with The Children’s Society
In 2015, we became the first utility company to team up with national charity The Children’s Society to engage hard to reach families.
The Warm and Informed pilot project, which concluded in 2016, allowed us to reach over 1,000 people in Bradford around key issues such as fuel poverty, energy switching, nutrition, debt management and the dangers of CO.
Part of the project saw us train and fund Children’s Society caseworkers so that they could identify and support families struggling to keep their homes warm, and make the appropriate referrals.
The pilot has informed the content of the charity’s report and guidance document, providing a blueprint for reaching fuel poor families through children’s centres. It’s also been referenced in DECC’s March 2015 document ‘Cutting the cost of keeping warm – a fuel poverty strategy for England’ as an example of best practice.
We are now working with The Children’s Society on a programme that will go wider than Bradford, with a focus on education and life skills for young people.
- Warm Hubs
In 2015, we linked in with the charity Community Action Northumberland to provide ‘warm hubs’ – cosy places where vulnerable people can go to meet and relax and access advice around issues such as energy efficiency.
We have secured £36,000 investment to support this great scheme for the next three years, after which we expect it to become self-sustaining.
The scheme continues to go from strength to strength and has seen interest from community and church groups, the British Legion and pubs and cafes.
- Helping local authorities bring the heat
In 2015, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched a £25 million fund to provide free central heating systems for struggling families not connected to the gas network.
We teamed up with 24 local authorities in our region to help them prepare funding bids. A total of £11 million was obtained – that’s 40% of all available funding.
Securing this money for the region means that more than 1,400 households will receive central heating for the first time.
We have since appointed two full time members of staff to work with local authorities to implement the programme.
- Home energy audits
We have teamed up with environmental charity Groundwork to support their excellent Green Doctors scheme.
This sees experts provide home visits to offer customers advice around issues such as energy efficiency, grants, rebates and energy switching. Water bills and water savings are also covered.
In a joint trial with Northern Power Grid, the Green Doctors visited 65 homes resulting in lifetime savings of £17,160. We’ve been very impressed, and now intend to expand the trial to benefit even more customers in our region.
There are now plans in place to roll it out to a further 300 homes.