Winter Warmth 2020

Our Healthy Homes for Wellbeing project started in November 2017, and in the past three years we have seen tremendous growth in not only the services we offer, but also the numbers of residents we have helped, as well as an increase in the geographical area that we cover. The Healthy Homes project provides free practical energy advice and support to the vulnerable and fuel poor at drop-in energy advice clinics, other events across the region, and during LEAP home visits in Exeter, Mid Devon, East Devon, Teignbridge and Torbay.

Due to the current pandemic we have not been able to run drop in advice clinics or conduct home visits. We have had to tailor our service and we have been helping residents with a telephone advice service and completing a short home visit if required.

We helped 154 households in September with advice on energy bills, switching supplier and/or tariff, claims for warm home discount, advice on reducing energy consumption, referrals for grants for replacement boilers and insulation, referrals for benefit checks, fire safety checks and much more. Those who receive a LEAP home visit from us save on average over £850.

The ECOE Healthy Homes Hardship Fund

During our first three years we have seen too many examples of extreme poverty and we realised in many situations just a small grant could make all the difference to a struggling household.

There are charities, local and national, that offer hardship grants, but their application process often means it would take too long. And sometimes there simply aren’t any grants or easy solutions to the problems we encounter.

We decided to create our own Hardship Fund which is enabling us to make a world of difference with just a small intervention, like providing an oil-filled electric heater or blankets, paying for boiler repairs or replacing a broken fridge or cooker for a family struggling on minimal benefits.

Here are three households that we have helped recently:

  • Mrs W is on low income benefits, she lives in a social housing property and suffers with depression. She has to regularly use food banks, doesn’t have the heat on much as she can’t afford it. She couldn’t afford to replace her fridge freezer when it broke. She was very appreciative of the new fridge freezer bought from our Hardship Fund
  • Mr T is in his 70s and diabetic and couldn’t afford to replace his fridge when it broke during the Covid lockdown. He was worried about doing daily shopping at that time due to the risks to his health. Our hardship fund provided him with a small fridge to help him through that difficult time.
  • Mr P has mental health problems which played a part in him accumulating over £15,000 in debt. He’s on income related benefits and has deductions from these for some utility bills which makes money tight. During Covid lockdown he rang for emergency support. With two young children at home he and his partner were struggling. We referred him to local organisations who were providing take-away hot meals, the food bank. The ECC Covid support fund agreed to replace his broken fridge freezer and cooker. Our hardship grant provided a £100 Tesco voucher to supplement the food provided by the food bank.

The Hardship Fund is used at our discretion to support the residents we help within our Healthy Homes project. Awards are made according to the guidelines, which include low income, benefits, chronic health or other vulnerability, and where we feel we can make a real difference.

Winter Warmth: You can help us!

10.7% of households in Devon are living in Fuel Poverty. Often they are living in hard to heat homes and also have health issues such as respiratory and cardiovascular problems and depression. Shockingly, in Devon, more than 500  people may die from cold weather deaths this winter. These are unnecessary deaths – yet staying warm is a struggle for many households. Read more about excess winter deaths here

The downward spiral created by fuel poverty, hard to heat homes and health conditions are intensified by winter. That’s the sad reality.  And we’d like to be able to use our Hardship Fund to help keep people warm this winter – thats where you can help.

Support our Winter Warmth Campaign. Please consider donating your Winter Fuel Payment to our Hardship Fund, if you don’t need it yourself.  It could make a real difference.

If you don’t receive the Winter Fuel Payment, don’t feel that you are excluded from our Winter Warmth campaign. Any donation to the ECOE Healthy Homes Hardship Fund is very welcome and it will mean we can do more to keep others warm this winter.

We welcome all your support! Donate here