Celebrating Success – Our Warm Homes Campaign confronted the Beast from the East

By Maria Wardrobe, NEA’s Director of Communications and External Relations

As a national fuel poverty charity we aim to hit big with our winter-long Warm Homes Campaign each year. It is our opportunity to influence policy and raise the profile of fuel poverty, highlighting the scale and the devastating effects of the problem, and encouraging other organisations to take action. This year our campaign was more vital than ever in providing advice and assistance to those suffering from the cold as the Beast from the East hit the UK.

Sometimes it can feel like an uphill struggle, we see successive governments over the years making some changes to improve the situation. However they fail to prioritise improving the energy efficiency of homes and there is no long term investment. It is frustrating to know that fuel poverty could come to an end, if only adequate resources were committed.

But we can be proud of our achievements in getting some important changes made. For a small charity, employing fewer than 80 people, we punch well above our weight. We actively research and monitor fuel poverty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We recommend changes that could be implemented to make a real difference to people living in fuel poverty. We engage with MPs and stakeholders, and we highlighted key issues at our House of Commons Members event at the launch of the Warm Homes Campaign in November.

This year, and with minimal budget, we also gained extensive national and regional media coverage. At the launch of our campaign we sent out a press release based on our research ‘Bridging the Gap – addressing the cost of living facing UK households this winter’. We highlighted that over one million fuel-poor families in England would not have the cash to meet basic living expenses over winter. We gained great coverage on ITV national news, as well as several regional ITV news channels and nationals including The Guardian.

We sent out a release in the week leading up to Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, the culmination of our campaign. Entitled ‘430,000 of the poorest children in England and Wales live in dangerously cold homes’, we challenged the Private Landlords lobby calling for a lower cap on spending to bring homes up to a decent energy efficiency standard. The release gained coverage in The Independent and Evening Standard.

Then, on the day, we issued a joint release with E3G on our research on excess winter deaths, which also gained extensive coverage including the BBC News Channel and BBC Breakfast.

We did extremely well on social media and with a planned and proactive approach; we trended on Twitter all day with #FuelPovertyAwarenessDay. Our evaluation showed we reached over two million accounts on social media and potentially up to about 14 million people via the news media.

Following the campaign we gave advice to vulnerable households when the Met Office issued severe weather warnings for the UK.

So, despite the frustrations, we delivered an incredibly successful campaign. We are making a difference, but we couldn’t do it without our supporters, and to you we give our heartfelt thanks.

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