Tackling fuel poverty one home repair at a time

This Friday (23 February) is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day. A vital initiative to highlight the millions of people in the UK who can’t afford to heat their home, living each day chilled to the bone.

It’s amazing to think there are still people who face the possibility of freezing in their own home. You would assume that fuel poverty was confined to Victorian times, but sadly that is not the case.

Too many Britons are living in houses that are not-fit-for-purpose and they don’t have the means to pay for repairs or make their homes more energy efficient.  This leaves them at risk of illness and people can die.

We play our part in tackling fuel poverty by funding life-changing repairs to improve the heating and fuel efficiency of people’s homes.

Each year we distribute grants to Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) so they can make repairs to the houses of vulnerable and older people, enabling them to stay safe, well and warm at home.

This year alone we will fund more than £500,000 worth of home repairs and improvements thanks to our partnership with npower and Gas Safety Charity.

The npower Health Through Warmth (HTW) Crisis Fund helps people in England who have long-term illnesses and are finding it hard to fund heating and insulation measures in their homes.  Works covered include insulation, draught-proofing, central heating, and heating repairs.

While the Gas Safe Charity Hardship Fund will pay for the likes of gas fire repairs, boiler servicing, and the installation of gas meters.

In both instances, these types of work provide a huge benefit to the individual but also to the NHS and social care. These works prevent injuries and illness –  like falls, carbon monoxide poisoning and burns – potentially avoiding hospital admission and early entrance to residential care.

What’s more, the people we help tell us they feel healthier, less stressed and better able to manage long term conditions themselves.

Just ask Stoke-on-Trent couple, Mr and Mrs P, who last year were left with no heating or hot water after their boiler broke down. Mr P has prolapsed discs, arthritis, diabetes, and suffers from severe mobility issues.    Their HIA caseworker successfully accessed £1,468.95 to cover the boiler replacement, preventing Mr P’s condition from quickly deteriorating.

This is just one example of the impact that small household repairs can have on someone’s life. Please spread the word about the prevalence of fuel poverty in this country, but also reassure people that help is at hand.

To find your local HIA visit www.findmyhia.org.uk and use the searchable directory, or phone Foundations on 0300 124 0315.