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Community action group tackling fuel poverty during Covid-19

People with communication challenges are getting help from ‘green doctors’ to escape the trap of *fuel poverty.

From News & press - 18 March 2021 12:00 AM

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Groundwork London, a community action company with a strong record of engaging with communities across the London, will use a £19,906 grant from electricity firm UK Power Networks, to create engagement and training materials, and work with partners to more support residents with communication challenges to improve their energy efficiency.

Citizens Advice estimate 600,000 people in the UK have been plunged into fuel poverty during the coronavirus lockdowns. As a result, helping consumers cut their energy costs, is more important than ever.

Groundwork London’s REACH project is responding to Covid-19 to help vulnerable individuals with communication challenges, who are more likely to be affected by Covid’s economic challenges. They are also less likely to use digital devices and so may find it hard to get support by themselves.

Mhairi Grant, senior project officer at Groundwork London, said: “Groundwork London prides itself on identifying hard to reach, seldom-heard residents and ensuring people have the means to access our services. Through the REACH project, we will be creating a more inclusive Green Doctor service to ensure that nobody is left without the advice and support they need to deal with rising fuel costs.” 

In the fourth round of funding from UK Power Networks’ Power Partners scheme, nine not-for-profit organisations and community groups have secured a total of around £180,000, to help combat the growing issue of fuel poverty during the pandemic. The aim is to support community services to reach more people with help including energy efficiency advice, tariff switching and support for frontline charity workers.

Giulia Privitera, social sustainability strategy and programme manager for UK Power Networks, said: “Our fuel poverty strategy is built around the evolving needs of our customers and relies on creating strong partnerships with local organisations like Groundwork London who deliver energy advice and support out in the communities where it is needed the most. 

“Since 2019 our Power Partners projects have explored new ways to tackle fuel poverty and have already made a real impact for people who struggle to pay their energy bills. The growing financial difficulties caused by an unprecedented pandemic means that providing accessible and timely support in helping energy consumers cut their costs is more important than ever.

“For this reason, we decided to increase the funding granted for the fourth round of Power Partners to be able to support more individuals or communities who are experiencing emerging vulnerabilities or entering into fuel poverty as a result of the pandemic. Year on year, through our Power Partners and other energy saving initiatives, UK Power Networks continues to deliver tailored support for hard to reach communities that otherwise could have been left behind.”

The fund, administered in partnership with leading energy justice charity the Centre for Sustainable Energy, is open to not-for-profit organisations and community organisations. For more details email powerpartners@cse.org.uk or call 0117 934 1400.

UK Power Networks also runs a Priority Service Register which people living in vulnerable circumstances can sign up for, to get free extra help if a power cut ever happens. To apply visit www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority, ring 0800 169 9970, or email psr@ukpowernetworks.co.uk