Local charity and social enterprise Community Energy Plus has won its battle to find funding to replace a faulty boiler, which left a severely disabled young man and his mother without a heating system or hot water for six months.
The young man in question is cared for full-time by his mother at their home near St Austell. A loan was taken out to replace the old boiler and, despite using a registered installer and a reliable model, the family found themselves at the mercy of a new system which constantly broke down and required expensive repairs. The financial burden of the loan and the constant maintenance costs meant repairing the boiler became simply unaffordable. It was rendered useless and the family and their carers had to rely on electric heaters during the winter, boiling the kettle for hot water to wash.
Having decided to seek help, the young man’s mother contacted Community Energy Plus, a charity and social enterprise which has been helping householders in Cornwall stay warm and well for over 15 years. She was referred to the charity’s ‘Warm Me Up!‘ team, a project funded by the Big Lottery which helps people in difficult situations who are struggling to heat their homes.
‘Warm Me Up!’ project manager Amy Walker took on the case, contacting the installer and manufacturer of the boiler and the housing association, as well as various benevolent funds. However the household seemed to find itself in a grey area where, despite the dire situation, those responsible could not be bought to account and a source of funding was very difficult to find.
However Amy refused to give up. “This was the case of a wonderful mother, who is independent and proactive, and has always done everything she can to support her son by her own means. When she did look for help as a last resort, she found that help desperately wanting. It became a bit of a personal mission for me to find a source of funding for a new boiler.” Without a warm and healthy home, the young man’s condition was liable to deteriorate and caring for him at home would become impossible.
After exhausting many avenues, Amy referred the family to the npower Health Through Warmth scheme, which helps with funding of crucial heating measures for vulnerable homeowners in England and Wales who have a long term illness, a low income and little or no savings. Due to the severity of the situation the cost of the replacement boiler was fully funded by the npower Health Through Warmth crisis fund, and the work was able to go ahead. Within a week the boiler was replaced by a local company, who will be supporting the family in the future with servicing and maintenance of the system.
“Health Through Warmth’s decision to fund the full cost of the work themselves was a very welcome surprise,” said Amy. “It was fantastic to know that they would finally receive help, and could look forward to a warmer home and improved quality of life.”
The young man’s mother spoke of her relief on having the work carried out. “Being without both hot water and heating was just a nightmare, especially as I have a disabled son who needs to maintain a normal temperature and relies on personal assistants to provide his every day care, including washing and dressing. We are a lot more comfortable now and it is a better working environment for the carers who we rely on. You don’t realise how much you need and rely on the basic necessities of warmth and hot water until you don’t have them anymore.”
“This is a success story,” said Amy, “however there are plenty of other people who, like this family, are unable to find help because they don’t fit the criteria. This case serves to emphasise the challenges faced by many people in difficult circumstances in meeting their energy needs.”
If you live in Cornwall and are struggling to heat your home, or are worried about friends and family who may be elderly, have young children, care for others or have physical and mental disabilities themselves, contact the Warm Me Up! team at Community Energy Plus on Freephone 0800 954 1956.