Healthy Homes for Wellbeing fights pandemic injustices

Many people struggle with kitchens that are old, inefficient and in poor repair. <span>Photo by <a href="">Annie Spratt</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a></span>

Many people struggle with kitchens that are old, inefficient and in poor repair. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

With people currently confined to their homes for so long, fuel poverty has put affected households more at risk from the worst effects of Covid-19. This unjust situation is unacceptable. We’d therefore like to take a moment to praise our Healthy Homes for Wellbeing team for their great work to help make things fairer.

After a summer of being confined to their desks, our home energy advisors were glad to get back out in the community last August. We carried out home visits throughout the autumn, until this latest lockdown, but most of the advice work has been taking place on telephone calls and via webinars.

With so many homes struggling to keep warm in the recent cold snap, our 2020/21 Winter Warmth Campaign became more important than ever. With £3,000 raised, we are not far off our target of £4,000.

Poverty bites

To understand what this work is like, imagine the poorest homes you’ve ever been in. They’re more common than you think. Recently we have heard from four homes that do not have doors on their ovens, because the clients can’t afford to repair or replace them.  We know that there are many demands for your money, and a lot of people trying to support residents in situations like this. But our advisors deal with cases like this every week. As such, please do donate to our Winter Warmth and help us continue to support people like this.

“During the one very coldest week, we received nine new enquiries from homes with broken boilers, and no money to replace or replace them,” comments Tara Bowers, Project Manager for Healthy Homes. “All of our electric radiators are currently out on loan, and we have been seeing very high levels of request for financial support since the start of the COVID pandemic. Sadly, we can’t always help everyone as much as we would like. I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to our campaign this year. Every donation is really valued.”

In mid-August 2020, our key partner LEAP relaunched services after an extended spring/summer closure. Between then and 31st January 2021, we helped 707 households to save £690,614, almost £1,000 per household. This figure includes grants for heating and insulation works, debt write offs, and new or increased benefits. It counts the savings made from advice, switching tariffs, discounts on bills, the installation of small measures like LED lights. It also includes replacement white goods supplied under the Home Energy Appliance Replacement (HEART) scheme.

Speaking up for our clients

For example, we recently got two rebates on energy bills in excess of £2,000 for clients. In one case, the client had felt that their energy supplier was laughing at them.

There are now six trained advisors on the team. In January 2021 we recruited Vickie Mogford in a new role of benefits advisor to support the team. Read more about Vickie here. You can also find out about our advisor Julie Glover, who we recruited to cover East Devon last year, here.

The team has been busy with webinars, online energy cafes, and training for key frontline workers. One notable event was a webinar held on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, when Ben Bradshaw MP joined us. It was a great opportunity for the team to explain some of the problems the encounter day to day to a wider audience. You can watch that again here.

More energy cafes and webinars are lined up over the next few months. You can check out all the dates here.

Hopefully, the team will be able to get out in the community again very soon, doing what they do best – helping people to save energy, save money and help to combat climate change.