Comic Relief funds CSE to support vulnerable fuel poor

New project seeks volunteers from black and minority ethnic communities

30 June 2010

A new three-year project from CSE, funded by Comic Relief, aims to tackle the problem of fuel poverty and fuel debt among the older members of Bristol’s black and minority ethnic (BME) communities.

Overall, BME communities are more at risk of fuel poverty and fuel debt than other urban groups, and this is especially true amongst the older generations.

Higher numbers suffering poor housing, lower incomes, and often a language barrier are all thought to be reasons why people struggle. These combine with major difficulties accessing the services and entitlements they require, leading to miserably cold homes and risk of fuel debt.

CSE will help more than 300 older people from Bristol's many BME communities – Somali, Bengali, Pakistani, West Indian and others – access the energy advice and support they need.

The project, which is an extension of CSE’s Warming Bristol Communities scheme, will train up local community volunteers to become energy advisors and help local residents access services through a trusted source. Ten residents over the age of 65 will be trained as energy advisors to give advice to friends and neighbours on how to be energy efficient, access grants, access the benefits they are entitled to and stay out of fuel debt.

Helen Richardson. CSE’s energy advice services manager, will be leading the project. “This new project will allow us to target some of the hardest to reach people in fuel poverty; many of these people face major barriers to find the help they need, including language barriers,” she said.

“Being able to receive the necessary help and support from neighbours or friends will makes things much, much easier for people and they will find the sources of information more trustworthy. And by working in this way, it is possible to reach far more people and create a lasting legacy of knowledge and experience within their communities.”

The project is being funded by Comic Relief;  CSE was one of just 12 organisations to win funding from the charity out of a record 580 applicants in the recent funding round.

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