In North America, the ongoing economic recovery coupled with record-breaking temperatures has made it difficult for some of our customers to pay for the energy they need, which is why we fund the Neighbor-to-Neighbor bill assistance programme in Texas.
In 2014, Direct Energy donated $538,250 (£335,170) to Neighbor-to-Neighbor, enabling nearly 3,000 customers receive a grant of up to $600 (£374). And since the launch of Neighbor to Neighbor in 2003, Direct Energy has contributed over $7.9m (£4.9m) to the programme, assisting more than 49,800 customers with their electricity bills.
The grants are distributed via 34 community action agencies, who are best placed to screen and detect customers who need help the most. This is because the agencies are already used by those in financial hardship who are seeking assistance with for example, their rent or mortgage.
To raise awareness of the support available through Neighbor-to-Neighbor, we run events and provide flyers for distribution by our not-for-profit partners. We additionally enable our customers to help their lower income neighbours by providing donations via their energy bill. And in 2014, our customers contributed more than $71,300 (£44,400) to the programme.
One of our customers, Rita who is 62 years of age, spoke about the tough choices she had to make when her unemployment benefits ran out and how Neighbor-to-Neighbor has helped her. She said, “I couldn't afford my medication for diabetes and high blood pressure. I'm doing without a lot of things just to get by. Thank God for this programme. It helped me survive”.
Bobbie Charlton, Outreach Worker at Concho Valley Community Action Agency said, “Through the Neighbor-to-Neighbor programme, we’re working with Direct Energy to make a positive impact in the lives of our clients. Helping them with their energy bills takes away some of the worries faced by households in financial hardship.