he need for help with tackling fuel poverty is increasing and so, in May 2013, Ebico teamed-up with the national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) to deliver a project to help vulnerable people in Greater Manchester access high quality fuel debt advice.
The ‘Fuel Debt in the Community Project’ involves delivering a range of activities to increase knowledge and understanding, amongst frontline advisors, of how to deal with fuel debt cases. This included running a fuel debt training course, sessions on welfare reform and establishing a fuel debt network which provided ongoing advice and support to those dealing with fuel debt in the region.
Eleven representatives from housing associations, local authorities and other community groups attended the initial training course. Feedback was extremely positive:
“Very easy to follow, good pace, and lots of useful information, hints and tips”
“I’ll use my information folder and knowledge at my volunteer work”
“Keeping in mind when dealing with tenants, being more proactive in that area”
The majority reported that their knowledge of the subject had increased and that they had the confidence to provide advice where needed.
The first of two planned Fuel Debt Advice Network meetings took place on 1 October 2013 attended by 58 frontline workers from a range of organisations and feedback included
“Provides me with the opportunity to update my knowledge and network at the meetings”
“Helps find out what strategies other organisations are employing in tackling fuel debt and their experiences”
“By getting information that may not be available elsewhere. I can pass this on to other members of staff and volunteers”
“Good networking opportunity and a good way of sharing information and best practice.”
“Enables you to find out useful information and latest policies / schemes to help fuel debt”
Awareness sessions have been provided to Wai Yin Chinese Women Society, Somali Advice Link and Housing 21. Over the coming months, NEA will be working to deliver additional awareness sessions, a Fuel Debt Advice Network meeting and will continue to produce the fuel debt advice bulletins. For further information on this project visit our Trust page here, or contact Jimmy Pugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.