Heat Heroes Awards 2017

The winners of the Heat Heroes Awards 2017-18 have been announced. Congratulations to all! They received their trophies at an awards ceremony in the House of Commons on 6 February.

Our Winners!

Joanna Seymour, Flintshire County Council

Jo is described as being a force of nature with great enthusiasm and passion which has a positive effect on others around her. When she started work at Flintshire, after having already had great success in Wirral launching Healthy Homes, she pushed further and helped the Affordable Warmth programme grow and thrive. Healthy Homes Healthy People/Cartref Iach/Pobl Iach is now spreading across North Wales thanks to her drive. She has raised the profile of health and housing issues, getting Flintshire County Council on the agenda of the 2025 movement seeking to reduce preventable health inequalities and Well North Wales, Public Health Wales’ regional hub.

Kate Urwin, Yorkshire Energy Doctor CIC

Kate worked on the Bradford Warm Homes Healthy People project for two years doing 270 home energy visits to households in fuel poverty. However, a lack of long-term funding and the threat of redundancy was the motivation to set up her own community interest company in July 2014 to specifically tackle fuel poverty in the Selby district where she lives. She won a place on the Yorkshire and Humber School for Social Entrepreneurs and hasn’t looked back since, bringing in funding of £120,000 over the last three and a half years and working full-time to deliver home energy visits to vulnerable households, community outreach events and training for frontline staff. In this time she has trained up 507 frontline staff on fuel poverty and schemes to help people with their energy bills and has become the trusted go-to organisation in the district for fuel poverty advice, receiving referrals from a range of local organisations.

Vanessa Powell-Hoyland, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield Hallam University

Vanessa is a Public Health Theme Lead in the Public Health Directorate at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and is also seconded to Sheffield Hallam University working as a Research Assistant. Vanessa works at a strategic and operational level leading the fuel poverty portfolio in Doncaster. Through Vanessa’s persistence and dedication she has accessed over £100,000 of recurrent funding from a variety of sources including the Better Care Fund to deliver projects including: boiler on prescription, winter warmth training programmes and resources, and community roadshows. These programmes have supported over 300 households in 2016/17 in Doncaster to live in warmer homes and change their behaviours around energy use.

Esme Parry, Talking Money

In the last year, Esme has secured in excess of £101,300 in grants, energy savings and other essential funds to improve the health and wellbeing of her clients at risk of, or facing fuel poverty. Working part-time brings its own challenges but securing grants in this current climate is extremely challenging as we see charitable trusts restrict eligibility, reduce the upper grant values available to ensure they are supporting the ‘most in need’. Esme remains undeterred and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise around what potential charities to access based on her clients’ situation and background. Esme retains the title of most grants awarded which saw her successfully clear a client’s fuel arrears debt of just short of £7,000. On top of managing her ongoing casework Esme is a well-regarded Energy Ambassador within her immediate community area.

Natalie French, Citizens Advice Coventry

Natalie French is a fuel poverty adviser for the Affordable Warmth Solutions project which provides free or heavily discounted gas connections to vulnerable fuel poor households and access to a multi-faceted service that addresses all circumstances of a household’s fuel poverty. Natalie provides a telephone assessment in the areas of income maximisation, switching tariffs, energy efficiency, and health and wellbeing.

The scheme has been running since October 2016 and over £340,000 worth of financial savings have been confirmed for clients. 100% positive feedback has been received by clients and one of the main reasons for this is Natalie. Her reassuring manner and vast knowledge and experience ensure she gains clients’ trust easily and engages them to carry out her advice.

Emma Pagett, Arun District Council

Since 2015, Emma has been providing dedicated, effective and patient service to households in the Arun and Chichester districts. Vulnerable residents contact the Home Energy Visitor service to seek advice with a range of concerns including high energy bills and inefficient or broken heating systems.

In order to support our residents, Emma keeps up-to-date with all the available funding possibilities, but also strives to empower people so they can better manage their fuel bills themselves in the future. Emma shows compassion to those with health needs made worse by the cold and damp. She pays great attention to what her clients say and treats each one as an individual, tailoring the help they can get.

Russell Bosanko, Citizens Advice Derbyshire Districts

Russ has worked for Citizens Advice Derbyshire District since 2015 as our Financial Capability Officer and energy champion, a challenging post in a large rural/urban mixed area.

Developing our mobile library partnership, to reach communities that struggle to get to our services, within the last 12 months alone Russ has delivered over 3500 leaflets to some of our most remote villages. His dedication inspires his colleagues; mobile library driver Martin says: “He’s never put off – I see him in the distance climbing hills to make sure nobody misses out on vital energy advice.”

As lead on the East Midlands Financial Capability Forum Russ endeavours to ensure energy is on the agenda so frontline staff receive training and are up-to-date. He has trained 120 frontline staff. Russ is described as having boundless energy and limitless enthusiasm for helping people to save energy. His manager states that testament to this is that they have seen an increase of 10% in people that they help with their utility bills and energy advice.

Kate Ashman, Citizens Advice Manchester

Kate supports clients in fuel poverty in health settings. Last winter Kate worked on a pilot project delivering home visits to patients with chronic respiratory illnesses. The project took direct referrals from specialist nurses and physios who deliver support via home visits to their most vulnerable patients. Kate worked closely with the nurses and physiotherapists and clients. The home visit model worked perfectly for all parties. Her manager really believes that Kate’s skills and client focus made the difference to over 80 people’s lives.

Liz Dagger, Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE)

Liz has given 12 years of outstanding service to CSE as an energy advisor, contributing to a large number of advice projects, and a diverse group including refugees, older people, low- income households and single-parent families. But it has been her exceptional support of rural communities which has set her apart – excellent advice, diligent mentoring of volunteers and other advisers, as well as her leadership in bringing together local councils, health and social care agencies and frontline support agencies, that has made a significant positive difference to rural households struggling with affordable warmth.

Davina Allen- Marches Energy Agency

Davina is a project manager at MEA. She runs six different fuel poverty advice lines for six different local authorities in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire, covering a population of 430,000 households of whom 48,000 are in fuel poverty. The advice line is at the core of the independent fuel poverty advice service and supports over 1,000 callers a year. Calls cover ECO2(t), including Flexible Eligibility Declarations for heating and insulation measures, Warm Home Discount, Priority Services Register, fuel debt, tariff switching and behavioural change advice.

Where there is real need she works closely with a householder and installer on a case-by-case basis. Often there is a funding shortfall and she will always explore blending different funding pots. The mix is constantly shifting requiring of her real flexibility and determination in supporting vulnerable clients, often over considerable periods of time. She is outstanding at this, and last year brought in over £200,000 of new capital funding to support fuel poor householders.

Debbie King, Lancashire County Council Public Health

Debbie has played a vital role in reducing Fuel Poverty in Lancashire over the last 11 years. In 2006, LCC adopted NI 187 (Tackling Fuel Poverty) as one of its priorities in the Lancashire Local Area Agreement and Debbie brought together all the HECA Officers from across the county together with the Energy Saving Trust and Warm Front to start the Lancashire Home Energy Officers Group (LHEOG). Together the group worked to set and meet fuel poverty reduction targets, HECA targets and to attract funding to run energy saving schemes. Through the dedication of Debbie the group has continued to meet every six weeks from that time with continued representation from every council and the LHEOG is now a strong and established partnership which is recognised across the energy sector.

Rhian Cook, Melin Homes

Rhian joined the Melin team in 2014 as a Little by Little Projects Officer and trained as a qualified adviser after passing the NEA Level 3 Award in Energy Awareness.

Little by Little (LBL) was created through Welsh Government funding, engaging with households in areas that had previously received energy efficiency funding for hard measures such as external wall insulation. Rhian was allocated to cover the Cardiff areas. In 12 months Rhian engaged with over 300 properties. Out of those 300, over 250 households fully engaged with Rhian to allow her to visit their property to provide in-depth specific energy efficiency advice. In this project alone, Rhian collectively saved residents over £62,000. Rhian is described as having been vital to the development of the energy project officers team, helping hundreds of residents facing or in fuel poverty and supporting and mentoring less experienced officers as they joined the team to ensure they provide the same excellent level of customer service and support.

Diane Simone, Blackpool Care & Repair (Blackpool Coastal Housing)

Diane is dedicated and works tirelessly to make sure vulnerable residents in Blackpool have heating. Diane visits clients in their homes and as well as accessing numerous services and support on their behalf, makes charitable applications for funding where residents are without heating. She has become an expert in seeking out and extracting funds from a wide range of sources, which she uses to support individuals. Indeed, Diane has been successful at securing over £39,000 from our own charitable arm, The Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT), which has been used to directly benefit vulnerable people in need.

This along with public health funding subsidises ECO without which the new boilers/heating could not be installed. Diane has become part of the extended Cosy Homes in Lancashire (CHiL) team, championing this initiative in Blackpool to maximise funding opportunities in the town.

Bob Adamson, Durham County Council

Bob Adamson works as a volunteer on issues relating to fuel poverty, health and wellbeing and patient care. Bob is retired and carries out unpaid voluntary work in the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group GP surgeries.

Following a series of Warm Homes Campaign awareness sessions run by Durham County Council with Clinical Commissioning Group Patient Reference Groups in Sedgefield, Easington and Durham Dales; Durham County Council were delighted to welcome Bob Adamson to the role of Warm Homes Champion. In this role Bob assists households who are living in cold, damp homes and may be suffering fuel poverty. In his role of Warm Homes Champion Bob regularly visits GP surgeries in the Sedgefield area to set up and deliver Warm Homes Roadshows. During these visits he provides free and impartial advice on how to help save money on energy bills and move to the cheapest and best tariff.

Alvina Ali – Wolverhampton Homes

Alvina gained responsibility for addressing affordable warmth and identifying fuel poor tenants/residents to help them lower their bills, stay warm and well, save energy, water and money whilst sustaining their tenancies. Within a year at Energy Wise, she built partnerships and used her position to build a single-point-of-contact for fuel poor cold homes. Alvina has helped support more than 1,370 people through the referral process by delivering joint initiatives externally with City of Wolverhampton Council, CAB, AgeUK and councillor/MP surgeries (in her own time) to tackle fuel poverty.

Alvina carries out home energy visits giving residents advice on how to reduce their bills or how to find the best deal as well as saving energy and money. This service has now grown. Over the years she carried out an incredible amount of work to help people in need and went the extra mile in helping people to reduce their fuel debt.

Published on 06-02-2018
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