Hot Coffee, Hot Topic with the Warmer Homes Advice and Money project

Today’s blog comes from Hannah Spungin, Programme Manager for the Operations team in Bristol City Council’s Energy Service.

This morning, we partnered with the Mayor and colleagues in Public Health to put on a Hot Coffee, Hot Topic session. The event promoted the Warmer Homes Advice and Money (WHAM) service and explored how we can support residents on low-incomes living in cold homes.

Working Collaboratively

We know that living in fuel poverty can have an impact on mental health as individuals stress about high fuel bills and the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma. By partnering with Lynn Stanley, Senior Public Health Specialist in Public Health and the Thrive Bristol program, we hope to link fuel poverty initiatives with an opportunity to improve mental and physical health in Bristol.

Since publishing the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) chapter on Fuel Poverty in December 2018, the Energy Service have also been working collaboratively with colleagues across the city to implement the chapter’s recommendations and tackle fuel poverty. The expansion of the Warmer Homes Advice and Money (WHAM) project is an example of a step we have taken to increase collaboration and create a single-point-of-contact service to better support those in fuel poverty.

WHAM is a multi-agency partnership between the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Talking Money, WE Care Home Improvements, Citizens Advice, Bristol Energy Network and North Somerset Council, funded by Bristol City Council. The organisation’s caseworkers provide advice on energy and finance (i.e. income maximisation and budgeting), while arranging for the installation of energy efficiency measures.

Next Steps

Our next steps include developing an action plan for reducing fuel poverty. Alongside a commitment to make Bristol a carbon-neutral city, the One City Plan includes the target that nobody in Bristol suffers from a cold home because of fuel poverty and/or the absence of insulation and heating by 2030.

Utilising the One City approach, the action plan will be governed by the Health and Wellbeing Board, with input from the Homes & Communities and Environment boards. The action plan will be produced by the No Cold Homes steering group, which is a collection of organisations in the city who take an active role in helping to alleviate fuel poverty. We will be hosting an event in early November as an opportunity to bring together agencies from across the city, to determine potential actions to be included in the plan to be published in early 2020.

This morning’s session included heart-warming discussions of clients who benefitted from support through WHAM and conclusions that more joined-up conversations regarding fuel poverty and poverty, in general, need to be had. As we’re steadily approaching the winter season, we are keen to get the conversations started and actions in place. If you are interested in finding out more or being part of the conversation, please contact Hannah Spungin at . hannah.spungin@bristol.gov.ukThis morning’s session included heart-warming discussions of clients who benefitted from support through WHAM and conclusions that more joined-up conversations regarding fuel poverty and poverty, in general, need to be had. As we’re steadily approaching the winter season, we are keen to get the conversations started and actions in place. If you are interested in finding out more or being part of the conversation, please contact Hannah Spungin at Hannah.Spungin@bristol.gov.uk .

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