Fuel poverty levels in Devon have been on the increase in recent years and whilst projects like Healthy Homes for Wellbeing, run by Exeter Community Energy (ECOE), have been tackling this issue head-on with drop-in energy clinics and in-depth home visits across the region, there is still a lot more that could be done.
ECOE’s new Winter Warmth campaign highlights the issues of fuel poverty and hard-to-heat homes faced by local residents each and every winter. Having recently launched the Healthy Homes Hardship Fund, ECOE is seeking donations which they hope will make a world of difference. If residents receive the Winter Fuel Payment but don’t need it, they are being asked to donate it for the Hardship Fund to help others keep warm.
Small grants will be made available from the Hardship Fund for households struggling to make ends meet. These grants will help provide things like an oil-filled electric heaters or blankets, paying for boiler repairs or replacing a broken fridge or cooker.
“During our first two years of the Healthy Homes project, we have seen too many examples of extreme poverty and we realised in many situations just a small grant could make all the difference to a struggling household,” commented Gill Wyatt, project manager.
National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day takes place on 29th November this year. ECOE, as well as other organisations trying to combat this issue, will be highlighting stark statistics, such as the fact 11.6% of households in Devon are living in fuel poverty. Often, they are living in hard-to-heat homes and many also have health issues, such as respiratory and cardiovascular problems and depression. Shockingly, in Devon, more than 500 people may die from cold weather deaths this winter.
“As the weather gets colder, it's much harder for people in fuel poverty and those living in hard-to-heat homes. It’s keeping us busy - the demand for home visits is high. Donating to our Winter Warmth campaign gives those of us lucky enough to not face fuel poverty the opportunity to share a little warmth this winter.” Gill continues “The downward spiral created by fuel poverty, hard-to-heat homes and health conditions reaches its lowest point in winter. That’s the sad reality. We’d like to be able to use our Hardship Fund to help keep people warm this winter.”
Donating unneeded Winter Fuel Payments to the Winter Warmth campaign helps local people play an active and significant role in reducing fuel poverty and hardship this winter. ECOE is also eager to stress that anyone - even those not in receipt of a Winter Fuel Payment - can contribute. "Even if you can only give a few pounds, you could change somebody's winter. You could even save a life," finished Gill.
Donations can be made via the ECOE website or by calling 0800 772 3617.