Here you’ll find examples of projects to tackle fuel poverty in London. We hope they’ll act as inspiration to you in your work.
The Kensington and Chelsea Foundation – Winter Warmth Campaign
The Kensington and Chelsea Foundation has been working in Kensington and Chelsea for four years, helping borough residents to engage with their local charities. They are currently running their third Winter Warmth campaign, which they launched last November.
Fuel poverty statistics in Kensington and Chelsea are alarming – last year 40 elderly residents died of cold related illnesses, and 60% continue to ration their use of fuel, whilst 26% turn their heating off altogether because they are fearful of not being able to meet fuel costs.
The Winter Warmth campaign aims to help residents such as these by providing grants of up to £500 for energy efficiency measures or to put towards fuel bills. Money for the campaign comes from general donations, but also from those who don’t require their Winter Fuel Payments and so pass them on. Winter Fuel Payments are made annually by the Government to all those over 65, regardless of income, and when last year’s payment was made the Foundation distributed 25,000 leaflets encouraging those in receipt to pass it on for redistribution to those more in need.
“This campaign is a wonderful way for people who can, to share what they don’t seriously need. It benefits your neighbours most in need. “ Sylvia Syms, Actress and Kensington and Chelsea resident
Since the launch of the third Winter Warmth campaign £30,000 in donations has been received and last year 67 grants were made to local people in need. Realising that they had little expertise in finding referrals themselves, the Foundation established a referral network through local organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Nucleus and Age UK K&C, who in turn also coordinate smaller agencies in the area. When a grant payment is made, the agency who made the referral also ensure that the person is receiving all the correct benefits, and check whether they are eligible for any other help. Where appropriate residents may also be referred to Kensington and Chelsea council’s Healthy Homes scheme, or for help with switching supplier or finding further grants.
Through the Winter Warmth campaign, the Foundation hope that they can continue to alleviate the stress of winter for elderly residents. Response is positive – only 5 of the people who accessed the grant in 2012/2013 had accessed it the previous year – and next year they hope to widen their reach.
The Foundation are grateful to Age UK, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Nucleus, Kensington and Chelsea Council, without whom they would not be able to run the campaign. They would also like to express their thanks to those who have donated so far.
To find out more and to donate to the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation Winter Warmth Campaign, please visit their website.
SHINE – Islington
SHINE takes a holistic ‘one stop shop’ preventive approach to seasonal health, with one referral leading to an assessment for almost 30 difference interventions, including energy efficiency improvements, benefit checks, falls assessments, fire safety checks, medicines use reviews, enablement and befriending services, telecare etc. Referrals are received from both statutory and volunteer sector services, including housing officers, health professionals, social services and local older people’s organisations. SHINE is open to all residents in Islington, regardless of housing tenure, but is aimed principally at people over 75, those with long-term health conditions or low income families with young children.
In 2012/13 the SHINE Hub processed 1,662 referrals leading to 7,300 interventions, making it one of the largest such referral networks in the country. Between December 2010 and September 2013 it assisted almost 4,000 Islington residents in total and recruited around 400 front-line workers to the referral network. The project has been recognised by National Energy Action and the European Commission and in early 2012 expanded to Hackney. The team have also advised a number of local authorities on setting up similar programmes.
The team continue to innovate and, partnering with the local Citizens’ Advice Bureau, the SHINE Hub is currently developing a education and awareness programme in 2013/14 for younger social housing tenants to prevent fuel and water debt and dampness. It also operates an Energy Reconnection Fund for people without gas or electricity.
SHINE has encountered many vulnerable residents that have ‘slipped through the net’ with existing services and have been able to assist them in achieving a safer, warmer and healthier home. Read more about SHINE here.
High rise hope – Hammersmith and Fulham
London has over 2500 tower blocks, and the three tall and four medium-rise blocks at the Edward Woods estate in Shepherds Bush are fairly typical. Constructed between 1966 and 1971, they have suffered from disrepair and social deprivation whilst still providing reasonable living accommodation and a vibrant sense of community spirit.
Working with Rockwool and the London School of Economics, Hammersmith and Fulham carried out a regeneration programme including wall insulation, solar photovoltaics, construction of new penthouses, enabling improved roof insulation, improved lighting and glazing in communal areas and installation of gas central heating in some flats which previously had electric heating (an interesting note: people living in electrically-heated studio flats were paying more to heat their homes than those living in gas-heated two-bedroomed flats).
LSE have carried out an extensive evaluation with residents to find out about their experiences before, during and after the works. You can read their findings in High Rise Hope, which you can download here.
Healthy Homes – Kensington and Chelsea – the difference that partnerships can make
With a high proportion of older homes that are hard to make energy efficient, a significant older population and some areas of deprivation, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has a higher rate of fuel poverty than you might think. Since 2009, the Healthy Homes partnership has been working to tackle the problem.
The partnership brings together the Council, the NHS and the voluntary sector (particularly AgeUK and Citizens Advice) to deliver a joined-up approach to fuel poverty. This includes lobbying at a local level, capacity building in the public and voluntary sectors through a programme of outreach and training, and provision of advice, support and grants to householders through a dedicated Council helpline.
In a typical year, Healthy Homes provides support to around 120 households; the long winter of 2012-13 saw this number increase to nearly 200. Before the Healthy Homes scheme was established, the Council supported just 15-20 households a year, demonstrating the value that a strategic approach, ongoing commitment to the issue and dedicated resource can bring.
Read more about the Healthy Homes programme here.