Collaboration is paying off for WHAM

CSE’s WHAM team has gone from strength to strength in 2019 as more funders recognise the value of this collaborative approach to tackling fuel poverty.

11 December 2019

The WHAM project (Warmer Homes, Advice & Money) was set up in 2017 with funding from the Bristol City Council Bristol Impact Fund, to assist people with energy advice, debt advice and home repairs – all of which can be drivers for fuel poverty. Two welcome injections of funds came this year from Bristol Energy’s Fuel Good Fund and Affordable Warmth Solutions CIC.

These contributions have widened the service beyond measure – expanding the team from 2 to 6 (!) caseworkers, enlarging the area to cover North Somerset as well as Bristol, and crucially, bringing more organisations into partnership, including Citizens Advice and North Bristol NHS trust, to provide an even deeper level of support.

And it hasn’t taken long for work to scale up accordingly, here’s a snippet of what one of the new WHAM caseworkers, Jules, has been up to.

Supporting North Bristol NHS Trust patients

Jules now rotates across all the main NHS Trust Hospitals, helping to speed up the time it takes for patients to return home if they have issues such as no heating or damp problems, which would otherwise prevent them from being discharged.

She’s already well-established within the hospital teams – clinical staff know that if a patient seems at risk, they can be referred directly to Jules, meaning work can begin and support can be given to alleviate fuel poverty even while the patient is still in hospital.

The team at Cosham Hospital dialysis unit see Jules as a welcome point of contact, referring a number of regular patients they know to be struggling with anything from cold homes to housing and welfare rights. Debbie was one such patient.

Debbie’s success story

Debbie was left in a vulnerable position when her tenancy was terminated at short notice. She was introduced to Jules through the team at Cosham hospital, where she visits 3 days a week for dialysis treatment.

Jules worked with Debbie over the next few weeks, helping her access the support available and putting her in touch with partner organisations like Citizens Advice and Bristol City Council.

Four weeks later, when Jules stopped by the dialysis unit to drop off a Christmas hamper, Debbie had good news to share – she had just secured private rental support from Bristol City Council, meaning her and her daughter could now look for a flat, and wouldn’t face the prospect of having no home this Christmas.

The result is testament to Debbie’s efforts, juggling applications and meetings alongside her exhausting treatment schedule.

It also serves to highlight the power of this almost unprecedented example of multi-agency partnership – with NHS clinical staff, the WHAM team, Citizens Advice, Bristol City Council, as well as other local support organisations, working together to ensure patients receive the help they need.

North Bristol NHS Trust have been as thrilled as us about the success of the partnership – not only does the reduction in readmissions ease the pressure on NHS services, it also plays a crucial role in their sustainable development strategy to reach carbon neutral by 2030.

So thrilled in fact, that they made this video to promote the service to all staff and partners.

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