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Fuelling Hope: Our support for Act on Energy's Complex Case Worker initiative

Over the past two years, Heart of England Community Energy (HECE) has allocated over £70,000 to support Act on Energy's Complex Case Worker initiative, addressing the impact of rising bills amidst the cost-of-living crisis in Warwickshire.

The impact of the relentless rise in living costs over the past two years has been deeply felt in our local communities. The onset of the cost-of-living crisis in 2022 sharply increased the prices of energy, food and essential items, exacerbating the struggle for many individuals to make ends meet, keep their homes warm and manage escalating energy expenses effectively.

HECE took action by committing to fund a new two-year project with Act on Energy (AoE), totalling over £70,000! AoE, an energy advice charity operating across Warwickshire, have been pivotal in providing essential aid to households navigating these challenges. Our funding, allowed AoE to launch their "Complex Case Worker" programme in South Warwickshire.

The "Complex Case Worker" initiative is designed to offer personalised assistance to vulnerable individuals, ensuring they have the time, space, and support needed to navigate their energy needs. By providing information and guidance on energy saving, and facilitating access to essential grants, this initiative aims to ease the financial strain of energy costs for local residents. Moreover, it places a strong emphasis on promoting warmer and more comfortable living conditions, addressing the root causes of fuel poverty head-on.

We are delighted to share the remarkable success of AOE's initiative in our community over the past two years:

Supporting a total of 723 households against a target of 400, the project has exceeded our expectations. Susan Juned, one of HECE's directors and a district councillor, shared her perspective:  

“I am also a district councillor in a Ward where many residents have needed assistance with heating bills and costs. Often the cases are complex and require assistance from a number of other services. The complex case worker has been really helpful in helping people to seek other sources of advice and grants to meet the cost of living or improve their housing problems as well as helping them to reduce or pay for their immediate heating bills. I have been very grateful for the support that has been given.”

The project's impact is best illustrated through stories like Emma A's* and Henry's*. Emma A faced challenges with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia while dealing with financial strains renting a flat with her partner. A crucial turning point came when AOE's complex case worker, Alvynne, stepped in. Alvynne's compassionate support not only secured a £300 fuel payment from HECE but also provided essential energy-saving measures such as a slow cooker, draughtproofing, radiator foils, and energy-saving lightbulbs, significantly improving Emma's quality of life. Beyond practical assistance, Alvynne also offered energy efficiency advice, enrolling Emma in the Priority Services Register, and referring her for a fire safety check

“Thank you so much for your help. I'm so happy for the help all you kind people do.” - Emma A

Henry, a proud 80-year-old homeowner in Stratford, has lived alone since his spouse passed away a decade ago. But just lately, by his own admission he has become withdrawn and is struggling to keep on top of things. When Henry met Susan, a complex case worker from Act on Energy, at a local drop-in service, she quickly arranged to visit him at home. Immediately Susan could feel the cold interior and noticed that bills had remained unopened, piling up on the sideboard. After spending time ensuring Henry understood the advice and guidance that was going to make a real difference to his wellbeing, Susan applied for a new heating grant to address his faulty system. As a temporary fix, Sun fitted some small energy-efficient measures such as a draught excluder, new light bulbs, and provided a heated blanket. Susan also coordinated with Henry's energy suppliers to fit smart meters and clear debt with the help of a small grant. Henry is looking forward to a brand new heating system but is already full of gratitude to Susan.

“I call her super Susan. She’s made such a difference. I had no idea I’d be entitled to a new heating system; it will be great to get some warmth again all over and not just in this room. I’m so thankful that she spoke to the energy companies – I suppose I was just in denial hoping it would all get sorted somehow.  Thank you, Susan, you’re a wonder” - Henry

* to maintain confidentiality, "Emma A" and "Henry" are not their real names

The impact of the project has been significant because, as a result of  HECE’s funding, evidence of need for this type of project was clearly demonstrated. So much so, that both Stratford and Warwick District Councils have now committed to funding similar projects. As we celebrate the success of this initiative, HECE takes pride in paving the way for projects mitigating fuel poverty in our area, and looks forward to their continued growth and success. The entire HECE board extends sincere thanks to all at AoE who made this initiative possible.


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