Responsibility

National Award helps vulnerable community

Our most recent blog is from Christine Tate, Head of Corporate Responsibility at British Gas. Christine is responsible for the management of community programmes and partnerships that support vulnerable people struggling to pay their energy bills across the UK.

Chris Tate

Christine Tate, Head of Corporate Responsibility at British Gas:

Over 3 million people in the UK are estimated to be living in fuel poverty, which means they are unable to afford the energy they need to keep their homes warm and well lit. It’s a significant problem and one that’s growing as the cost of living rises. As Britain’s leading energy supplier, it’s an issue we try to help tackle through meaningful action but we cannot abate fuel poverty alone. Only through collaboration with others such as charities, action groups and government can we hope to use the skills, resources and expertise needed to take steps towards a solution.

That’s why we have again teamed up with National Energy Action’s (NEA) Community Action Awards, working in partnership with the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Awards support NEA’s ambition to eradicate fuel poverty by recognising innovative projects and partnerships across Britain that help communities fight fuel poverty and save energy.

And the national wnner of our first 2014-16 award?

NEA

The award was made at NEA’s National Fuel Poverty Conference and while it was a tough decision, the Warmer Middlesbrough projectwon, beating off strong competition to receive the prize of £3,500.This represents the first of 25 further awards that will be available through the 2014-16 scheme worth a combined total £50,000

So what does the Warmer Middlesbrough project do?

Their project workers visit hundreds of homes across Middlesbrough to fix everyday heating system problems for the elderly and vulnerable. They provide ‘handy man’ help with simple but important tasks like bleeding radiators, resetting central heating systems and setting thermostats correctly. Part of their role also involves providing advice on how to keep warm while saving energy.

With more than 142,000 households in the North East struggling to pay their energy bills, Warmer Middlesbrough’s award will help even more local people stay warm in their homes and be energy efficient. And by reducing the amount of energy used, this not only makes energy more affordable but it also cuts the amount of carbon emissions emitted, thereby reducing energy’s impact on climate change.

And what did the winners have to say about winning the award?

Mark Fishpool, Director of Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC) which runs the winning project said, ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this accolade. In such difficult financial times for many people it is vital that we do as much as possible to help. This award is a great encouragement not only to MEC, but to all partners who deliver affordable warmth projects in Middlesbrough, as we continue to tackle fuel poverty in the town’.

It’s evident that working together to tackle fuel poverty in local communities is vital - the Warmer Middlesbrough project is a fantastic example of how local partners can collaborate to support people most in need. The scheme remains open and I would urge any other local organisation working to tackle fuel poverty to apply for an award*. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the lucky winners.

You can find out more about other ways we support our vulnerable customers on our website.

* The scheme is open to community groups, charities and other third sector organisations. Local authorities, health agencies, and other public and statutory organisations may also apply. Priority will however be given to applications that demonstrate a partnership working with local charities or community groups. The awards are applicable for organisations within England and Wales.