Warm and Well In North Yorkshire Project Coordinator Julia Priestnall talks about the importance of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day this year
Our specialist Energy Advisers have been working non stop to reach out to people struggling and often in ‘heat or eat’ scenarios and we expect our winter referrals to be at record levels this year.
Fuel poverty is usually caused by a perfect storm of low income, high fuel prices, poor energy efficiency, unaffordable housing and poor quality private rental housing. At least 2.4m households in England are already in fuel poverty, affecting 10% of the population. This figure is expected to rise rapidly this winter.
Working closely with our partner organisations which include Citizens Advice, Two Ridings Community Foundation, Community First North Yorkshire, Yes Energy Solutions, The Yorkshire Energy Doctor and many more, we have managed to reach more people in fuel poverty than ever before. We continue to stick to our mission statement which is to raise awareness of the impact of cold homes on our health and wellbeing, offer practical solutions to reduce fuel poverty, and supports people and communities to stay warm and well in winter.
Warm and Well Project Coordinator Julia Priestnall said:
“It goes without saying that this winter will be difficult for people that find themselves fuel poor and many people may be suffering from fuel poverty for the first time. Whilst many people have seen a significant cut into their income due to redundancies, reduction in ours or the furlough, many have also had to move onto welfare benefits such as Universal Credit for the first time. In response to this we are working flat out to reach as many people as possible as the temperatures drop. We saved one gentleman £600 on his yearly energy bills recently, and have managed to help families in rural areas with properties that are ‘off the grid’ heat their homes when they have had no one else to turn to.
In addition to this most people are having to stay at home, whether that means working from home or spending more time in your home due to the lockdown. It’s a fact that people have higher fuel bills due to spending more time at home. We are often coming across families that are having to self-disconnect and are having to choose between keeping warm and eating properly.
We feel in this day and age nobody should have to choose between their physical and mental health and wellbeing and high energy bills. Alarmingly, 72% of people referred to us recently have had a long-term health condition or a disability. We are particularly worried with the increased risk for people being vulnerable and fuel poor who may be more susceptible to the Coronavirus if they are living in a cold or damp home. Whilst we welcome the measures being brought in on the 15th December to support people that are vulnerable on prepayment meters, we feel a lot more can be done to support people through this difficult period and beyond.
We have been relentlessly raising awareness about fuel poverty, through our social media channels and press releases as part of our #GearUpForWinter campaign. We are also have been working with our partners at Citizens Advice to promote Best energy savings winter to help people keep their fuel costs down. We have also been travelling around North Yorkshire in Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire’s Rural Advice Bus visiting markets such as Hawes to reach out to rural families and let them know we are there for them during these difficult times.
If you are struggling with fuel poverty or are worried about a loved one or a neighbour that may be suffering from fuel poverty, you can refer them to us yourselves by either calling our specialist energy advisers on 01609 767 555 or make a referral online at https://www.warmandwell.org.uk/Referral-Form
We can also help with:
- Applications for Warm Home Discount
- Practical advice on energy efficiency measures
- Referrals to partners to conduct home visits for heating and insulation advice and installation.
- Fuel Debt advice
- Applications for funding for the purchase of emergency fuel i.e. coal, electric heaters, prepayment cards and gas bottles from various charitable organisations.
- Support with high energy bills
You have nothing to lose only to gain and our friendly specialist energy advisers are on hand to help tackle fuel poverty Monday to Friday 9-5”.