“Without this support I don’t know what I would have done”

3 June 2020

WHAM (Warmer Homes, Advice & Money) is an innovative multi-partner* project that supports Bristol and North Somerset’s most vulnerable residents, like Jane Lowe from Clevedon. Led by CSE, the project gives advice on energy, money and benefits and carrying out home repairs.

Let's hear what Jane, from Clevedon in Somerset, had to say ...

"I was very impressed with the professional way WHAM dealt with my heating problems. Joe Pitt was always easy to talk to and got all the problems sorted out. Without this support I don’t know what I would have done. Being diagnosed with a life changing illness was awful, but the support I received was amazing.”  

Jane was referred to WHAM by Citizens Advice North Somerset last winter. Jane suffers from severe osteoporosis and needs a warm home, but when we went to visit we found her boiler was intermittently breaking, most of her radiators weren’t working, she had no hot water and her gas bills were high.

WHAM caseworker, Joe Pitt, takes up the story. “In all, I visited Jane three times. The in-depth support we offer through WHAM is time-intensive, but necessary to get results that are genuinely life-changing.

“On my first visit to Jane, I looked at her energy bills. She was on a prepayment meter with British Gas, but because of her lack of mobility she found it hard to get to the shops to top up. We called British Gas and arranged to have a new smart credit meter installed that would allow her to pay by direct debit. At the same time I found her a new fixed tariff, saving her £230 a year, and applied on her behalf for the Warm Home Discount grant worth £140.

“I later referred Jane to our partners We Care for a free boiler service. This got her hot water back on but it left the heating on constantly - not OK for Jane who’s on a low income and was already stressed about high bills! Major boiler repairs were needed which aren’t covered by the service, though I did get our partners AMS Electrical, to fix the radiators.

“I also referred Jane to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme for a new boiler. This grant scheme covered most of the cost of the boiler, but Jane couldn’t afford the householder contribution of over £700. Luckily, WHAM has an emergency fund through which the difference could be paid. The new boiler was installed after Christmas and I visited again to explain how to use the programmer and thermostat.

“It’s great to hear that Jane is happy with the service she got from the WHAM project.”

You can read much more about WHAM here.

Jane's story is downloadable as a case study.

You can read Kayleigh Pullenger's story here 
"I ended up in financial difficulties when my income was drastically reduced at the same time as the coronavirus lockdown (I was in the high risk group). Health Watch told me about WHAM ... It’s made things so much easier for me during this difficult time.”

And Ted & Shirley's story here.
"I really appreciate everything WHAM and Julia has done for me ... She has helped me more than anyone else and I look forward to having a cup of tea and biscuit with her when lockdown has finished.”

And Nikki Mellon's story here.
"I couldn’t thank you enough for all that you have done. You’ve been brilliant, thank you.”

* WHAM is funded by Bristol City Council, Bristol Energy and the Warm Homes Fund. It is delivered by CSE, Talking Money and We Care Home Improvements, Bristol and North Somerset councils, Citizen’s Advice, Bristol Energy Network and AMS Electrical.

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