Community Action Awards: Supporting community success

Christine Tate, Head of Corporate Responsibility,talks about the importance of working together to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions

In her latest blog, Christine Tate, Head of Corporate Responsibility at British Gas,talks about the importance of working together to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.

Fuel poverty and carbon emissions are two of the biggest challenges facing the UK today and here at British Gas, we’re working hard to tackle these important issues. Last year, for example, we provided support to vulnerable customers that totalled over £380m through a number of programmes such as the Warm Home Discount. We also continued our focus on delivering energy efficiency measures that will help households cut their consumption and therefore lower household bills as well as their emissions.

Although we provide support to help those in fuel poverty, we cannot help tackle this issue and that of carbon emissions on our own. Local not-for-profit organisations are making a big difference and we hope we can continue their success and together, reach even more people.

That’s why, alongside DECC, we sponsor National Energy Action’s (NEA) Community Action Awards. These awards recognise innovative not-for-profit organisations in England that have been successful in reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions. The Awards reward nine community projects with a grant of £1,500 while three overall winners receive an additional £2,000.

You may remember that last year we asked for your help in finding worthy organisations to receive the Awards and I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of entries received. Phase one of the awards has now drawn to a close and, while it was a hard decision, we’ve now decided on the winners. I was fortunate enough to present some of the awards and saw first-hand the fantastic work these projects do.

I visited the Groundwork London PACT project in Manor House alongside my colleague Christine McGourty, Director of Corporate Affairs, Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State, and Minister Greg Barker MP. The project has made energy efficiency visits to 900 vulnerable households throughout the London Borough of Hackney. Energy Assessors from the project help the households identify simple ways to save energy and encourage longer-term behavioural change by asking households to agree simple energy promises that will reduce consumption. To help further embed these promises, the Energy Assessors also conduct a follow-up visit. The project has been a great success – 86% of the vulnerable people visited have kept their energy promises while some have also managed to reduce their energy bills by over £200 a year.

I also visited the Community Law Service: Northamptonshire Energy Saving Service (N.E.S.S). This project provides a holistic approach to advice and support to ensure local people can access benefits they are entitled to, as well as provide advice that enables them to better manage their energy bills and make their homes more energy efficient.

Last week, we also hosted an event at the Houses of Parliament to announce the three projects that will receive the additional £2,000 funding – these were selected for their outstanding and innovative work and the extra funding will enable them to help even more people. The winners included – N.E.S.S who I mentioned earlier, Healey City Farm – Weatherproof Women! and Dale and Valley Homes: Whole house energy advisors.

Given the exceptional work being done in local communities to tackle fuel poverty, together with the high number of applications received for the Community Action Awards, we’re providing even more funding to support an extra phase of the Awards. So if you know of a not-for-profit organisation in your area that has successfully tackled fuel poverty and reduced carbon emissions, why not get in touch? You’ll have to be quick though - phase two of the Awards is only open until 11 April. It’s easy to apply, just visit NEA’s website and complete the entry form. Good luck to all new award applicants and well done again to all the winners from phase one – we hope you are all able to continue to make a huge difference to local people’s lives.

Here at British Gas, we will continue to work closely with NEA to tackle fuel poverty and reduce energy’s impact on climate change through the Awards and the various training programmes and events we run to support those in need of energy and debt advice. Part of this involves our recently announced two year Community Action Partnership where we will work alongside local authorities and their partners to ensure an affordable supply of energy is delivered in a way that’s tailored to community needs in order to create social and economic value.

Further information regarding the three winners:

  • Community action to tackle fuel poverty across vulnerable groups:Community Law Service: Northamptonshire Energy Saving Service (NESS). NESS builds on existing community sector partnerships and provides holistic advice and support services to help people become more energy efficient in their homes.
  • Community action to tackle hard to reach groups in fuel poverty:Heeley City Farm: Weatherproof Women! Weatherproof women helps women from black and minority ethnicities, as well as migrant and refugee communities, to take the initiative in making their homes warmer.
  • Community action to tackle fuel poverty in rural areas:Dale and Valley Homes: Whole house energy advisors. This project aims to reduce fuel poverty by providing energy advice to help local tenants. It provides advice and help on heating systems, energy deal switching, energy efficiency, reducing debt and accessing grants.