Serving isolated communities in East Sussex

UK Power Networks’ Power Partners fund helped Energise Sussex Coast reach out to those who often miss out on energy advice & support

14 May 2020

There are two weeks left for community groups and not-for-profit organisations to submit applications to round three of the Power Partners fund from UK Power Networks.

Sums of between £2,000 and £20,000 are available for initiatives that combat fuel poverty and support people in vulnerable circumstances and those most affected by Covid-19. More detail on eligibility criteria, deadlines and guidance for applicants can be found here.

For anyone thinking of applying, we thought we’d share a little inspiration from one of the 24 previously funded community projects.

Energise Sussex Coast (ESC) was awarded £15,000 by UK Power Networks last year to fund a team of on-the-road experts working with people in vulnerable circumstances, who needed help to lower their bills.

The funding allowed ESC to invest in an electric van – The Energy Caravan – kitted out with a model eco home, DIY energy efficiency demos and an energy advice desk.

The Energy Caravan visited towns across East Sussex delivering interactive engagement events where people could get advice on switching suppliers, making energy efficiency upgrades in their homes or accessing discounts and support.

Working with community centres and housing associations, The Energy Caravan reached out to those who often miss out on help, including pensioners, people with sickness or disabilities, refugees and asylum seekers, isolated communities and deprived housing estates.

And the service has been a huge success - Kate Meakin, campaign manager form Energise Sussex Coast said: “At these events we gave one to one energy advice to 54 individuals and gave group talks and DIY energy efficiency demonstrations to a further 65 people. In total we saved people an immediate saving of £4,550”

“We have established a new fortnightly energy caravan session with the Sanctuary Café in Eastbourne for refugees and asylum seekers. This has got off to a flying start with service users being engaged quickly, most of whom are eligible for the warm home discount and therefore immediately being able to apply for the £140 discount.”

Adapting support during Covid-19

In light of the Covid19 crisis, the current round of Power Partners funding has been specifically repurposed to support organisations who have found new ways to provide vital support for vulnerable members of communities and help people who are most affected by the social or financial impact of Covid-19.

Energise Sussex Coast have done just that, repurposing the Energy Caravan service to distribute food supplies to people who are ill and self-isolating. During social isolation the team are also delivering support to children who would usually get free school meals.

Kerry Potter consumer vulnerability manager for UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity to 8.3 million homes and businesses, said:  “In the current climate of self-isolation more people will be struggling with their bills and unable to go to 'safe' community places to get advice and support. Through Power Partners we can work with local charities and organisations who have found effective ways to help people in vulnerable circumstances, both during the lockdown and afterwards, and make a real difference.”

Full details and criteria of the types of eligible projects are available in the application guidance here.

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