Our team had visited HEAT, an Ebico Trust funded project, run by National Energy Action, the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity. HEAT provides advice, advocacy and support to vulnerable fuel-poor households in Coventry and surrounding areas. The project has a joined-up approach in that it delivers both energy and debt advice combined, as the two problems often go hand-in-hand. In addition to home visits for energy advice, the project gives surgeries, telephone advice and presentations to local organisations and community groups.
Over the past 12 months the project has directly impacted 1,189 fuel-poor households and managed £24,000 of fuel debt. Moreover, it has helped the recipients of their services to access £47,600 of additional support through local hardship funds, trust fund applications, tariff changes and fuel debt write-offs.
On our visit we had the opportunity to spend time with some of their clients who were happy to share their personal stories with us.
We first visited Rebecca and her three year old son in a poorly insulated flat above a shop. She also had an outdated and inefficient boiler on the verge of breaking down. The result of this was that she was having to pay for an above average amount for heating to keep her and her young son warm. This was sending her slowly, but surely, into fuel debt. Rebecca, got a referral to Judy at the HEAT project who was able to arrange a new boiler, a loft insulation grant and manageable repayments with her energy supplier. Judy is now working on a fuel debt relief application in the hope of getting Ms Rebecca out of fuel poverty all together.
We then visited Kirsty. Three years ago, Kirsty moved into a new property with her daughter but she struggled to get the energy bills into her name. The previous tenant had signed up for a two year deal shortly before moving out of the property. Normally the supplier would cancel the contract with the previous tenant and put Kirsty on a new energy deal as soon as she moved in but they failed to do so. Two years on and Kirsty is still trying to get her name onto the bill. In the meantime she has accumulated debts of over £2,000, something that she cannot afford. Judy from the HEAT team has since spent time on the case and is confident she can get Ms Kirsty’s name onto the energy bills. She is also in the process of arranging a manageable repayment schedule for the debt and a trust fund application.
We had a great day with the HEAT team. It was great to know that The Ebico Trust is contributing to the funding of a successful community-based project on the forefront of the fight against fuel poverty.