4,000 Cornish households who are struggling to heat their homes will be helped to achieve warmer, healthier homes with more manageable energy bills thanks to new project by the Truro-based charity Community Energy Plus.
The charity has been awarded £318,000 of National Lottery Funding by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. The money has enabled Community Energy Plus to recruit three case workers to provide in-depth advice and support to help vulnerable households escape from the misery, anxiety and ill-health caused by fuel poverty.
The three year project, which is called Energy Wise, will provide advice in the home as well as over the phone for vulnerable householders who need face-to-face advice, advocacy support and access to grants for energy related issues.
It is expected that more than 800 clients supported by the project will receive in-depth support, which can extend across several months, to improve their situations.
The Energy Wise project got underway in January and has already provided home visits to 53 clients and telephone energy advice to over 700 Cornish householders. Much of the early support provided by the team has involved helping householders’ access grants for heating systems and insulation, assisting with switching tariffs, resolving billing issues with energy suppliers and dealing with energy debt. The project also strives to improve access to local services and support and is providing referrals and signposting to multiple organisations to improve the health, wellbeing and finances of clients.
Dr Tim Jones, Chief Executive of Community Energy Plus, said: “The grant from the Big Lottery Fund makes a massive difference the level of support that we can provide to people in Cornwall who are struggling to heat their homes adequately. It enables us to continue to run our Freephone energy advice service but crucially also provide more in depth support, often on a face-to-face basis to clients with complex energy issues.”
To deliver long-lasting outcomes beyond the three year project, home visits are focused on helping vulnerable people gain improved life skills on how to manage their energy use and bills while maintaining healthy heating levels. Condensation and mould are common in cold homes. Advice on simple behaviour changes to reduce damp, save energy and money are core elements of the coaching provided by the Energy Wise case workers.
Mrs D, a retired social housing tenant from Bodmin, has already benefited from the help from the Energy Wise team. Her granddaughter called Community Energy Plus because the pensioner had multiple heath conditions and was struggling to pay £70 a week during the winter to keep warm. During the home visit the caseworker noticed that the Economy 7 electric meter was incorrectly programmed and her night rate was being billed at the same price as her more expensive day rate. After speaking to the client’s energy supplier, Mrs D was given a refund of £750 and going forward will be able to use her heating with less worry about the cost.
Householders in Cornwall who are struggling to heat their homes or manage energy bills are encouraged not to suffer in silence. For help from the Energy Wise team call Freephone 0800 954 1956, email [email protected] or direct message through Facebook.com/CommunityEnergyPlus
About the Big Lottery Fund
Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.