Our energy advisors at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) are experiencing increasing demand for our service. As a tough winter gets closer and closer, more people than ever are reaching out so that they can have a warm home and basic comforts this winter, including food, manageable debt and peace of mind.
People, like Pablo, are now struggling when they haven’t worried before. Pablo lost his job after being badly assaulted. He was referred to us for financial support after he’d been out of work for a long time. ‘I turned off all my appliances at home, including my heating and hot water. I needed to save as much money as possible to pay my rent. Any leftover money I used for food’, Pablo explains. ‘But my oven was broken, and I couldn’t afford to fix it. I was living off beans on toast.’ Pablo lives with his dog, who he’d choose to feed over himself, so he regularly visited a local food bank for help.
Pablo’s oven wasn’t the only thing broken, his washing machine also needed repair, ‘I was handwashing my clothes. I went to the local Job Centre, but I think by turning up in unwashed clothes, I ruined my chances of finding a job.’
Our energy advisor helped Pablo turn on his heating and hot water when they realised that Pablo hadn’t been topping up his gas meter. Our advisor explained that due to the standing charge on his meter, if he wasn’t topping it up, he’ll ramp up debt. To help him pay it off, our advisor offered him a prepayment meter voucher worth £49 to cover his standing charge for six months. Pablo was also given a £49 voucher for his electricity meter, which covered his electricity costs for one month. We also secured him the Somerset Support Grant for £250, which Pablo said he’d put towards food for himself and his dog for the next few months.
Even with this support Pablo was worried he’d be unable to turn on his heating this winter. Our advisor gave Pablo some energy saving advice, especially on how to keep warm for as little as possible. We gave him an electric throw which will help to keep him warm and comfortable, even if he isn’t able to heat his whole home. We also explained that by using a smart meter, Pablo can monitor which appliances are expensive to run and he’ll be able to manage his energy use better. He agreed to talk to his supplier about having one installed.
As Pablo struggled without a working oven and washing machine, our advisor sent an application to Glasspool Charity Trust. Glasspool Charity Trust offered Pablo a replacement washing machine and oven, which would have cost almost £600 for him to buy himself. Pablo gladly accepted both, saying ‘This has made me feel more positive. I’m hopeful that now I have machine-washed clothes, I’ll be able to get another job soon.’
*Names have been changed for privacy