“We set up a gaming club to teach the community about saving energy.”
Community Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services (CDARS) has 30 years of experience supporting people struggling with complex issues including mental health problems, substance misuse, domestic violence, and poverty. Their services help over 1,200 people each year.
SGN: Safe and Warm funding enabled CDARS to …
- Include energy advice as part of the comprehensive support they offer.
- Train 6 members of staff as energy advisors.
- Support 339 households, helping them to save over £63,000 collectively.
- Run interactive sessions on energy savings and managing fuel bills.
- Empower their clients to use their skills and interests to save energy.
- Help clients sign up for support through the Priority Services Register.
- Provide education about carbon monoxide safety.
The project was essential to help our most vulnerable clients improve their living conditions during the cost-of-living crisis.Franco Toma, CEO
How has SGN: Safe & Warm funding helped your organisation?
The SGN Safe and Warm funding helped us increase the support we offer to vulnerable adults. Providing energy advice suits our holistic, person-centred approach.
The funding enabled us to train 6 staff members to provide energy advice. This has had a positive impact on both our team and the people we support, as both are now equipped with practical knowledge that can help them save energy and stay warm and safe at home.
The project has enabled our clients to lower their energy bills by switching to the right tariff. In addition, through making relevant behavioural changes their housing conditions have improved.
How many households have you supported so far?
We supported 339 households in total and surpassed over 60% of our targets. We saved our clients £63,058 in energy costs! Nearly 95% of those households were supported with:
- personalised energy and carbon monoxide safety advice.
- access energy efficiency measures, benefits eligibility checks, debt advice, and crisis support (including support in energy crises).
How do you deliver this support to community members?
Our clinical workers give 1:1 energy advice to the people we support. We also host regular workshops and drop-in sessions at our mental health recovery café. The workshops have covered different energy topics each month, including ‘energy and money saving,’ ‘carbon monoxide awareness’, ‘different sources of energy’ and ‘energy saving made easy.’
We’ve helped people to recognise how their skills could be helpful in overcoming issues in winter. For instance, knitting garments and blankets can be used not only to keep themselves warm and save money, but to benefit others and reduce social isolation.
We’ve also set up a gaming group for people who might be isolated at home. People come to socialise and play games, but their love of science and technology also provides an opportunity to discuss the power consumption of the latest technologies and how they could save energy at home.
M has been great with me. M and other workers at [the mental health recovery] Café help me when I am not well. M offered to help me find cheaper gas and electricity and showed me how to save money off my energy bills. She also signed me up for warm meals, and I got a food bank voucher. I don’t know what I would do without the café and M.CDARS client
What work have you done around the Priority Services Register (PSR)?
Our work around the PSR is tailored to individuals’ needs. We speak to people about it in various settings like drop-in sessions or small groups. We start by understanding their awareness of the PSR and if they are registered. Often, people don’t realise they’re eligible for support. We find out more about their circumstances, referring them to specialized agencies when necessary, and most are eager to embrace the extra help. If needed, we can escort them to their referred agency.
We often introduce the PSR during our interactive workshops. Through networking and sharing ideas during these workshops, we aim to build a supportive community, combatting loneliness and nurturing a sense of belonging.
Issues like broken boilers, water and internet problems are common. Our IT digital program equips the people we support with essential skills and offers tablets and SIM cards for independent use. This empowers them to manage tasks, handle bills, and seek better deals themselves.
What work have you done around carbon monoxide awareness?
We incorporated the topic of carbon monoxide (CO) in different ways depending on the circumstances of the people we support, and their learning styles. For example, we provided videos demonstrating how to use and check CO monitoring equipment. This helped to demystify the technology involved and helped the clients to better understand the topic. We also wanted to provide an interactive element, so we encouraged active discussions and quizzed our clients on various scenarios. In our group activities, we led CO bingo games to make learning more engaging and fun.