What is Project Wenceslas?
Every year, Brighton Lions Club launches its Project Wenceslas appeal, a campaign which helps combat fuel poverty in the City of Brighton and Hove.
The idea behind the project is simple yet effective. People who receive the annual Winter Fuel Payment and feel they don’t need it, are invited to donate the amount to Brighton Lions who make sure that every penny goes towards helping people in the city experiencing fuel poverty.
Energy debts paid on behalf of vulnerable customers by Project Wenceslas, Winter 2018 / 2019:
Shocking consequences of fuel poverty
Rising energy prices have been the main cause of increasing levels of fuel poverty and, although excess winter deaths occur in both warm and cold houses, deaths in the coldest houses are three times as high as in warmer ones. More people die from cold housing than die on the roads each year.
Excess winter deaths contribute to 1 in 20 deaths per year, and amount to an average of 30,000 additional deaths in winter.
While the amount of fuel poverty in Brighton and Hove is slightly lower than in England as a whole, it is higher than the South-East average. Excess winter deaths in Brighton are actually slightly higher than in both England and the South-East.
Anyone in fuel poverty can be affected, but most deaths occur among people aged 65 or over. People with pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular or respiratory conditions are most at risk.
The main causes of excess winter deaths are heart attacks and strokes caused by increased blood pressure from living in a cold home, as well as respiratory and breathing infections. The cold can lower the immune system’s resistance to infections such as colds, flu and pneumonia. In vulnerable groups, such as children, older people and those with existing long-term conditions, infections such as ﬂu and pneumonia can be life threatening.
The cold makes it harder for some people to move around.
Arthritis can become worse and general strength can decrease, which leads to a greater risk of accidents and injuries, and older people are more likely to have a fall.
Mental health is also affected. Some people become cut off from friends and family because they don’t want to invite them into a cold house.
Cold housing can also negatively affect children’s emotional well-being and resilience. It can be difﬁcult for them to study or do homework in a cold house, therefore affecting their education, future employability and long-term health.
Struggling to pay your fuel bills?
If you’re finding it difficult to pay your fuel bills, get in touch with us here at BHESCo.
There are a number of ways we can help. You cannot apply direct to Brighton Lions Club for help; all referrals must be made through agencies such as Citizens Advice, Age UK and BHESCo to ensure that all the donated money goes to people who really need help with fuel poverty.
Referrals to Brighton Lions Club will be completely anonymous as all that is required for payment to be made is your energy company’s name and the account number.
Donating your Winter Fuel Payment
If you would like to help those in our community who are struggling to stay warm this winter, there are two simple ways of making a donation.
You can make a credit or debit card payment through Brighton Lions Club’s website at www.brightonlions.org.uk or send a cheque payable to Brighton Lions Club to:
Brighton Lions Club, Lions Dene, The Deneway, Brighton, BN1 5AZ.
People sending cheques are asked to confirm that their donations may be treated as Gift Aid so that the value of the donation can be increased by 25%.
We often meet residents who are stuck with a very expensive tariff that they cannot get away from because of historic debt to their energy supplier.
Project Wenceslas enables these debts to be paid and for customers to be free to switch to a fairer deal with another supplier. In many cases the donations from members of the Brighton Lions Club has transformed the lives of some of our city's most vulnerable residents."