Better Housing Better Health applied to The COVID-19 Crisis Fund delivered by The Ofgem Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme in order to purchase an allocation of emergency energy vouchers to help residents in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Watford and Milton Keynes over a difficult winter period.

The £6 million COVID-19 Crisis Fund was open to charities to deliver crisis interventions to vulnerable households who were unable to top up their prepayment energy meters. BHBH supported hundreds of residents through 2020 and saw first-hand the economic impact of Coronavirus and knew short term relief was needed to alleviate the stress on residents, while also looking at their home energy for longer term solutions. The team had gained experience in issuing fuel vouchers on previous projects and saw the reassurance these had on households . We were delighted to be approved and win the funding at the end of 2020 to help people who needed it most.

Our Project Officers Caitlin, Alissa and Emma worked across the counties to forge relationships with food banks, referral partners, local councils, charities and even letting agents to ensure those most vulnerable were aware of the support available. We integrated ourselves into the community and let word of mouth spread amongst local services and support groups.

We spoke directly to residents on the phone and completed a warm and well assessment to look at the specific needs of their household and to see the interventions we could offer such a switching energy supplier, signing eligible residents up to the PSR, working with Income Maximisation to check all relevant benefits were claimed and also talked through simple home energy tips. We understood the fuel voucher was a quick fix but with the large majority of resident we were able to support them with additional interventions, build a trusting relationship and having a positive impact with a promised outcome. If eligible, we then issued a £49 voucher that was redeemable through local services.

In total we gave out 500 vouchers helping provide a warmer home, improved health and a happier Christmas. One resident we worked with was leaving hospital and knew they were going home to somewhere warm and welcoming and with us all spending more time at home this year, a comfortable living space is more important than ever. We encouraged residents to contact us with any further issues and look to work with them again on future projects.

Thank you to all our partners for supporting us on the project and the Energy Redress Scheme for letting us deliver this much needed assistance.

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