Forces for Warmth launches in East Midlands

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) and The Royal British Legion (TRBL) have launched a designated energy advice service for current and ex-service people and their families across the East Midlands.

The new service ‘Forces for Warmth’ aims to trial new ways of working with the serving and ex-serving community to reduce fuel poverty. Put simply, a householder is fuel poor when they are unable to keep themselves adequately warm in their home at an affordable rate or if in keeping themselves adequately warm the amount they pay takes them below the poverty line.

A 2014 survey by the TRBL found that a significant number of the ex-service community over the age of 65 had experienced fuel poverty – reporting a post-tax income below the national average. They reported that many expressed that they often ‘go without’ as a result of lower incomes. They said they couldn’t replace essential items such as cookers and boilers if they broke down, and couldn’t tackle damp problems in their homes. It was also found that one in four of the working age members of the ex-service community were in arrears, therefore struggling to pay fuel bills.

Forces for Warmth will begin by delivering training to Royal British Legion staff to provide them with the information to identify those who may be struggling to stay warm in their homes affordably and give them the knowledge to provide basic support and advice either over the phone or when visiting people in their homes. Staff will also be able to refer people to a designated advice service run by NEA, in order to receive in-depth tailored energy advice and practical support.

Community events will target local areas to raise awareness of the service being offered to wider support agencies, and to offer outreach advice and support. After NEA have evaluated the learnings from phase one of the pilot project and understood the need, they will be looking to expand the project from the East Midlands to other areas across the UK.

The Royal British Legion’s Advice and Information Team Leader, East Midlands, Digby Brown, said: “The Forces for Warmth service is set to make a real difference to the lives of those within the Armed Forces community and we are proud to be working in partnership to support those struggling with fuel poverty. All too often many are reluctant to come forward for help and advice in this area and so we hope that with training from NEA we can start to tackle this issue and create awareness of the support available for those within the East Midlands area.”

For more information on the project, please visit www.nea.org.uk/projects/forcesforwarmth or if you are a local support organisation in the East Midlands offering support services to the forces community and would be interested in getting involved with Forces for Warmth please get in touch by contacting Rosie Morton, East Midlands Project Development Co-ordinator by email at: Rosie.Morton@nea.org.uk

The Royal British Legion’s ‘Derby Pop In’ advice and information centre is a welcoming space for service personnel and veterans to get practical help and advice, and for members of the public to find out more about the wide range of services and community activities provided by the Legion. The centre is at 18 St Peter’s Street, Derby, DE1 1SH and is open Mon-Fri from 10am-4pm.

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