G52 npower Gamesley Fuel Bank :
Election Day (5th May) was not just significant for the election of our Police and Crime Commissioner (more on that here), it was also significant locally as it saw the launch of the G52 npower Gamesley Fuel Bank, where through the support of npower, vulnerable local’s using bellies not bins, the foodbank or related services who have a pre-payment meters will be able to get vouchers for gas or electricity, so they do not have to choose between ‘heating and eating’.
First launched in April 2015 with the Trussell Trust, National Energy Action (NEA) and Durham Christian Partnership, the npower Fuel Bank™ has so far been trialled in four areas (Kingston on Thames, Durham, Gloucestershire and the Wirral) and is now being rolled out more widely, with Gamesley been the first area in Derbyshire.
Before making the decision to extend the scheme, npower commissioned NEA, the UK fuel poverty charity, to undertake in-depth interviews with people who have been helped by Fuel Banks so far. The research found that, almost half of the people spoken to were households with dependent children, including many of pre-school age. Almost a fifth had a disability or limiting long-term illness and around a third had a health condition that could be worsened by the cold*.
Clare** a mother of four children and a regular user of the Foodbank said: “Today, I ran out of gas and used up the emergency credit on the meter. My partner is out of work and we’ve been struggling with no heating or hot water at home. Having the voucher has help me a great deal as I’ve been able to heat our home and keep the children warm, particularly as the weather has turned cold again this week.”
The scheme is for clients who access the G52 Bellies Not Bins Scheme and related services, who could be eligible to receive the credit which they can use to repay emergency credit and top up their gas and electricity meter. This enables households that have run out of energy to get the power back on within a few hours and keep the lights and heating on for around two weeks, whilst help and advice will be offered to try and fix the issue longer term.
Gamesley G52 Bellies Not Bins was set up in June 2013, and in 2014/15 helped over 3651 people, including around 1460 children under 16.
Pat Javanaud, manager of in Gamesley G52 Bellies Not Bins, said “This is a wonderful partnership and gives us the opportunity to support low income families or people who are struggling with day to day living costs. The Fuelbank allows us to give that immediate help. It’s not just topping up their gas and electric, it’s giving them their dignity back: they’re able to go home and have a hot meal, have a hot shower, as well as heat their homes.”
Guy Esnouf, npower’s Director of Corporate Responsibility said: “Our first step was to trial the Fuel Bank in four areas last year. This proved the concept works - getting the right support to the people who need it most. We’re now expanding to ten new areas across the UK – including opening Fuel Banks in Scotland and Wales – meaning we can reach thousands more people in crisis.”
Because the scheme gives people around two weeks’ worth of energy, the value of the voucher will fluctuate between the winter and summer months: from April to end October the value will be £30.00 and this will increase to £49.00 from 1st November to 31st March.
How the G52 npower Gamesley Fuel Bank works:
The npower Fuel Bank has been designed to utilise existing referral processes.
Individuals who are identified as being in crisis by care professionals, such as Citizens Advice Bureaus, GPs, social workers, Police, or Café Jericho, and are referred to the scheme
The individual goes to see Pat or Kim in the Geoffrey Allen Centre, if their household is supplied on a prepayment meter (PPM) for electricity and/or gas, they will receive a top-up voucher. As standard customers they can be issued a maximum of three vouchers in 6 months, and not receive more than one voucher within 10 days. This is checked by Charis Grants who administer the scheme on npower’s behalf prior to the voucher being issued
npower will provide a Fuel Bank voucher to the client via text message or email or if the client doesn’t have a phone or email account the voucher will be emailed to G52 within 24 business hours (vouchers are not issued on weekends or bank holidays). If required G52 will then contact the individual via an agreed means to share the voucher.
The client then takes this code to any shop with a PayPoint machine (the nearest local shops are either Londis on Winster Mews or Morgans on Glossop Road) where it can be redeemed against electricity and/or gas using their pre-payment key or card at no cost to the customer. The npower Fuel Bank code can only be used for electricity and gas.
Once the code has been redeemed, when the individual puts the relevant pre-payment key or card in their meter or meters the money will appear as a credit.
Anyone who access the scheme will also be given information about additional support available such as Warm Homes Discount, Warm Response Service, Manchester Credit Union, Bare Necessities Food Bank, HPBC Tenancy Support or other relevant support.
*The Fuel Bank Research can be viewed on the NEA website at: www.nea.org.uk/?p=1523
**Name changed to protect identity.
You can view more photos from the launch event on Flickr at : https://flic.kr/s/aHskw2zSdG