Community-led fuel poverty innovations
Community organisations such as faith and befriending groups often come into close contact with people living in fuel poverty. Yet despite the fact volunteers at these organisations often want to help there’s not always a straightforward way for them to give people the advice they need. This might be for any number of reasons, including that they don’t feel confident talking about energy use, are too pushed for time, or aren’t sure what professional help is available.
This project aimed to develop a process to enable these groups to identify and take action on fuel poverty when they see it in their communities.
To do this we first worked with faith and befriending organisations across the South West to understand:
- How does addressing cold homes and fuel poverty relate to their interests and priorities?
- How can we create flexible referral structures to encourage them to make referrals without needing them to work around pre-existing processes?
- What resources can we use to spread information about fuel poverty that fit with their values and organisational culture?
- Are there any practices which they could incorporate into their usual activities to take action on cold homes?
The lessons from this exploratory stage of the project were fed into creating a set of resources made specifically with these groups in mind and reflecting their requirements and concerns, and included bespoke training for particular types of group, as well as printed information and referral processes.
We know that faith groups and befriending groups tend to be very well trusted and respected in the communities in which they operate. Often they come into contact with people who aren’t easy for support services to reach but who are likely to be suffering from the effects of a cold home.
Despite clear enthusiasm for working with fuel poverty on the part of these groups there isn’t much in the way of support for them to do this. This project was an important first step in creating that support.Harriet Sansom, CSE’s lead on the project
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