I believe we can play a vital role tackling some of society’s biggest challenges – from youth unemployment to fuel poverty. But to make real progress eroding these enduring issues, we must harness collective expertise and work proactively with others, such as with social enterprises. This is exactly what Ignite, the UK’s first impact investment fund with a focus on energy and backed by Centrica, aims to achieve. The Warm-Age Wood Companyis another of its Big Energy Ideas. I wanted to tell you some more about the role they are playing to ease fuel poverty in their local community and how our investment will enable them to reach even more people.
Warm-Age at the Big Energy Idea with myself and our Chief Executive
So what does Warm-Age do?
Warm-Age is a family-run social enterprise that sells wood and briquettes for fuel in Teesdale and for every ten packs purchased, they will donate an extra pack to local, vulnerable people struggling to heat their homes. These are people who have been identified as in-need of assistance through engaging organisations such as food banks or community groups that support the disabled, elderly or unemployed.
Warm-Age is meeting the needs of their community because behind the picturesque scenes of the Durham Dales, lies a community that like many others with a strong heritage in mining, now live on relatively low incomes which can sometimes make it difficult to keep their homes warm. This is compounded by the fact that some of the houses in the old mining villages are harder to heat because they don’t have the benefit of modern insulation.
And in a recent Department of Health report, it was found that while cold related deaths in the UK are in decline, this area has experienced winter deaths above the national average. The work of Warm-Age is therefore really vital.
What’s more is that the briquettes are made by a company that utilises offcuts from furniture making and the construction industry, so cuttings that may normally have been thrown away are being put to good use as a fuel.
But helping keep local people warm is just one of the ways Warm-Age is making a difference in their local community.
As well as tackling fuel poverty, Warm-Age also run a knitting group that encourages community spirit and helps end loneliness and isolation by bringing together neighbours who can sometimes live miles away from one another. Woolens created are then sold to help raise money to fund the social enterprise.
Our investment in money and expertise will enable Warm-Age to expand essential support they provide to their local community and help even more people, by rolling-out a similar programme to new communities.
If you would like to find out about how we are helping grow the positive impact of social enterprises that drive innovation across the energy chain, read our Ignite cases studies