Warmth For Wellbeing
Last winter, BHESCo’s Energy Saving Service managed to support 75 fuel poor households in Brighton and Hove through the Warmth For Wellbeing programme. Now in its second year, the scheme helps residents save money on their energy bills, by giving energy efficiency advice, assisting with energy company switching and installing free measures to help reduce energy bill costs throughout the year.
Where specific help and assistance was not in our expertise we referred onto our amazing Warmth for Wellbeing partners, namely Brighton & Hove Citizens Advice (the main coordinators of the project) team, St Luke’s Advice Service (SLAS), Possability People and Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project (BUCFP) for debt advice and general benefits support.
The free measures installed included energy-saving LED lights, Radflek panels behind exposed wall radiators, draught proofing of external doors and windows and installing chimney balloons, where appropriate. Here are some lovely words from one of the clients we helped and who wished to remain anonymous:
“I just wanted to say a massive thank you for all that you did for me the other week- its great having light bulbs that work, the draft excluder around the door and the lovely draft excluder roll that I will use in the winter.
I really feel very lucky that I was able to have these things and I really appreciate your help; its often a lonely place fighting to get help with anything so was a real boost to me.”
We also referred many of these clients onto further support via Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC’s) Warm Safe Homes Grant (WSHG) for low income and vulnerable customers living in private, owner-occupied homes or the private rental sector. This grant enabled major works such as central heating and boiler installs, window and door replacements, insulation and other improvements be achieved. In total, BHESCo referred 50 clients for this local grant.
We also worked closely at this time with the Brighton Lions Club who oversaw the Wenceslas Fund referrals BHESCo sent. This fund is specifically designed to help customers in fuel poverty in the Brighton & Hove area. Wealthier pensioners kindly donate their annual Winter Fuel Payments to the fund which is then used to help those struggling to pay off their fuel debt.
One client said:
“I just wanted to say a massive thank you for your help with getting the grant for my electric and gas debt, it is really such a huge weight off my mind and am so very grateful.”
In total, BHESCo’s Energy Savings Service managed to identify and refer twelve households with fuel debt totaling £4,230, which were all paid off in their entirety. This freed up households to switch to cheaper tariffs with help and advice from BHESCo.
To add to our work helping vulnerable people struggling with expensive fuel bills, we helped ten households via the BHESCo Shareholder Fuel Poverty Fund, two of those were Syrian refugee families referred to us by the Brighton charity, Voices in Exile. So a big thank you to our BHESCo shareholders who voted to use their investment interest payments to help those struggling in our community.
Despite the end of W4W2, we hope we can be part of another W4W3 project for winter 2018/2019. Also, for those tenants in Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC’s) council housing properties, there is an ongoing project similar to W4W called Brighton SHINE (Sustainable Houses in Inclusive Neighbourhoods) and BHESCo’s Energy Saving Service has been selected to fit free energy saving measures and energy monitors. This is an EU funded Interreg 2 Seas programme from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)). BHCC tenants can register their interest here.
Anyone struggling with fuel bills is welcome to contact BHESCo at any time for free, expert and impartial advice. We’ve helped over 1,000 local residents, so you know you’re in good hands.