Mrs Smith, SSE Warm at Home, Mears North East
Ian is a Customer Service Advisor working in the contact centre at SSE. In July 2015 Ian received a call from Mrs Smith, a customer of SSE. Mrs Smith explained to Ian that she had been without a working boiler for seven years and had no funds available to have her existing one fixed or replaced.
Naturally Ian was concerned, Mrs Smith is elderly and vulnerable and having already suffered through seven previous winters without any working heating system the prospect of winter 2015 did not look good.
Ian contacted Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT) on behalf of Mrs Smith to see if there was anything they could do to help. FILT received funding from SSE earlier in 2015 for their Warm at Home programme which helps the elderly, disabled and those on low incomes keep their homes warm.
FILT arranged for the Mears Home Improvement Agency (local to Mrs Smith) to visit, they carried out an energy efficiency survey and organised for a gas heating engineer to visit and confirm the situation with the boiler and whether or not it could be fixed.
The engineer identified that the boiler was not in good working order and could not be fixed without considerable cost. Their advice was to completely replace it.
The caseworker liaised with SSE and they agreed the situation was a priority and would be happy to replace the boiler completely free of charge.
Mears home improvement also helped Mrs Smith to arrange a few smaller jobs through their handyperson service that she was unable to do herself. The handyman reattached a smoke alarm to the ceiling and fixed a hanging curtain pole, both jobs Mrs Smith could not have done herself.
Mears also made a referral to Warmzone for a benefits assessment to establish if Mrs Smith was entitled to any benefits relating to her health or income.
Without the initial enquiry from Ian, Mrs Smith would still be without the help and support she needed. The intervention has made a huge difference to her health, wellbeing and quality of life. She has a brand new energy efficient boiler, her home is warm and she is able to have a hot shower.
The referral to Warmzone has meant Mrs Smith is now also in receipt of attendance allowance and pension credit, giving her increased peace of mind about her finances.
In addition Mrs Smith is in touch with Age UK in Newcastle and is on their list for local lunch groups and activities. This will hopefully encourage her to be socially active and prevent her from feeling lonely and isolated in the future.
Ian was impressed by the work of Foundations Independent Living Trust, so much so that he ran The Great South Run in October to raise vital funds for FILT. The money he raises will go towards helping vulnerable people to stay warm and well in their own homes in the future.