Heat Heroes Awards 2018-19

 

We are delighted to announce the Heat Heroes for 2019.

Over 50 Heroes were nominated and all were worthy winners but we felt the following, who receive their awards at a reception in the House of Commons on 23 January, really evidenced how they go above and beyond the call of duty to tackle fuel poverty in their locality.

Hazel Hill, Sustainable Energy Officer at Bracknell Forest Council was nominated by Wendy Collas from Warfield Park Homes Group.

Working with Warfield Park Homes Group Hazel has obtained grants for new boilers and home insulation, which in turn has improved the appearance of the park homes, providing warmth, comfort and savings on energy bills. She also helped secure a grant of £1.4 million from Affordable Warmth Solutions to fund bringing natural gas to the Park Home development. In the past few months Hazel has managed to obtain a grant for replacement boilers for residents on Warfield Park. Happy Energy is now working on the Park replacing hundreds of boilers. Hazel is the Chair of the Association of Local Energy Offices in the South East Region and has been influential in changing Government policy to include park homes in energy efficiency schemes. One of the residents commented: “Oh you are the guardian angel sent to look after us”. That just about sums up what the residents and staff of Warfield Park think of Hazel.

Sophie Phillips, South Dartmoor Community Energy was nominated by Katie Reville

Sophie is a founder member of South Dartmoor Community Energy and has been fundamental in establishing their free and impartial home energy advice services for residents in the South Hams. Since September 2018 Sophie has already organised and delivered events reaching over 2000 residents with advice and information. Last winter she helped to save residents over £7000 off their fuel bills. Sophie is incredibly conscientious and always does her best for the residents that she helps. Their clients have increasingly complex needs (low incomes, mental health issues, disabilities) and Sophie always goes above and beyond to make their lives better. A recent resident who had been visited by Sophie commented: “I feel so looked after, it’s like I’m wrapped in a cosy blanket. What a great service!” Katie said: “I can’t praise Sophie enough and as she would never blow her own trumpet I would like to do so on her behalf.

Rob Hargraves, Severn Wye Energy Agency was nominated by James Clarke

Rob joined the well-established ‘Warm and Well’ energy efficiency advice team a year ago. A project highly valued by Gloucestershire’s seven local authorities, it had seen little in the way of innovation until Rob joined the team. Without fanfare, Rob was trusted with more and more of the project leadership, and in doing so now better understands the needs of vulnerable customers and identifying new ways to connect with them. Rob nurtured a close relationship with the NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group establishing a genuine partnership and collaboration with the CCG in order to benefit both fuel poor households and the NHS itself, in a year of acute seasonal pressure crises. He has worked to add greater capacity to the advice line, levering in £5m funding. He has cultivated a proactive approach building links with Western Power Distribution and Wales and West Utilities to use big data and infrastructure mapping to target the worst properties. “Rob has continually climbed mountains this year for the fuel poor and has innovated at every stage. For us, he is the epitome of a Heat Hero” said James.

Shakeel Ahmed from Bolton Council was nominated by Clare Maskrey

Since April 15 Shakeel has helped over 305 people, generating savings on average of £161.71 per customer. His highest gain for a switching appointment is over £1,000. His work really focuses on trying to change the habits and behaviour of his clients. His work with Age UK customers has especially highlighted his excellent work ethic. Some of the referrals received via this charity are in need of extra support and Shakeel very much embraces these customers and tailors the service he gives them, actively listening to their needs. He delivers excellent customer service from start to finish. He is extremely patient and calm, explaining the process and options available to the customer fully, communicating very clearly. His kind and caring nature shines through and his enjoyment of his role is evident to see. Nothing is too much trouble for Shakeel, he will go out of his way to ensure customers have the best experience possible. This can be seen by the numerous feedback evaluations he receives. “I really appreciated the patience, time, and knowledge Shakeel gave to me. His customer care was second to none.” “I liked the helping nature of Mr Shakeel Ahmed. He was very good in explaining the bill and made it easier to understand.

Dan Curtis of Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-op was nominated by Hayley Carmichael from Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

Dan in his role at BHESCo has demonstrated commitment to reducing fuel poverty and helping those that need it most as demonstrated by this case study:  Vera lives with her two young children, supported by a part-time job and child tax credits. Her boiler broke down and she couldn’t afford to replace it. She suffers from MS, made worse by the cold, and was becoming extremely stressed and depressed. In desperation, Vera was referred to BHESCo. Dan arranged a free boiler through Npower’s ‘Health Through Warmth’ scheme.  Dan also helped Vera to claim the Warm Home Discount of £140 and switched her to a cheaper energy tariff, saving another £150 on her annual energy bill. This has all made a world of difference to her comfort, happiness and wellbeing. He also helped John who lived alone supported by a modest disability allowance and handouts from a local foodbank; when Dan first made contact he’d not had heating in his home for 3 years. Following Dan’s intervention John talks of how wonderful it’s been to have a hot bath again and how he felt like he had more control over his life.

Lin Etherden from Citizens Advice South Hams was nominated by Janie Moor

Lin is passionate about social justice and shows huge commitment to clients. She is proactive in reaching the most vulnerable. She has established excellent relationships with local food banks, Children’s Centres and the Job Centre, and has delivered Big Energy Saving Network training to frontline workers. Over the last 12 months she helped a total of 705 people from 205 households, frequently working well beyond her paid hours. An average of £703 was generated per household in energy and other savings and in income maximisation. In addition, £184,000 in debt was written off following Lin’s intervention. These are substantial sums. Janie Moor, chief executive officer, Citizens Advice South Hams, says: “Lin is dedicated to making sure she gets the best outcome for each and every person. Initially, she stabilises what are very often volatile situations. She then works with the client, often over many months. She is approachable, non-judgemental and takes a holistic look at each case. She develops a rapport and gains the trust of the client, helping build their skills and confidence so that they are more able to resolve their problems in the future.

Lynne Grange from NE First Credit Union was nominated by Cliff Duff from Durham County Council

Lynne Grange has delivered the Managing Money Better (MMB) service across County Durham for the last four years. Over the past 18 months alone Lynne’s dedication and diligence resulted in over 900 home energy visits resulting in a combined saving of over £105,000 on energy bills and fuel debt write-offs. Lynne provides community outreach and training events to promote partner referrals including the Humanitarian Support Group where she provides assistance to refugees who have chosen to resettle in Durham. These families have undergone horrific life experiences and Lynne has ensured they have a warm home and are able to manage their energy bills and has received thanks from these families where she is regarded as their trusted “go-to person” for ongoing support. Lynne has received many letters of gratitude including an elderly couple from Stanley who had £4,300 of fuel debts. Lynn found the electric meter had been inaccurate for over two years and was able to have all of the fuel debt written off and also ensured the client received compensation from the energy company of £1,187. Durham County Council and the County Durham Energy Partnership unreservedly nominated Lynne for the Heat Hero Award due to her dedication and passion to provide a positive effect on the lives of fuel poor households. Her determination in pursuit of a successful result for her clients and exceptional level of support ensured over 90% of clients have accessed long-term lower energy bills and warmer homes.

Lisa Collings from Warm Homes Healthy People – Suffolk Coastal District Council was nominated by Gary Crockett

Lisa is the Warm Homes Healthy People administrator. Her level of commitment, motivation and drive are second to none. She has received many compliments letters, cards and emails from clients expressing the REAL difference WHHP and Lisa’s help has made. She always goes the extra mile to help clients, often working weekends, and even logging on while sick to make sure cases are progressing.  It is no exaggeration to say every partner organisation has nothing but praise for Lisa:

Lisa is amazing and has made every ‘customer’ she helps feel very safe. Safe in the knowledge that she will follow their plight through to the absolute end – keeping them informed in a very impartial and empathetic way. We couldn’t feel prouder of Lisa and the vital role she plays to provide support to the most vulnerable individuals and families who are seeking help through the scheme.”

This is even more impressive considering Lisa has only just turned 18, and has been with us since she was 16, originally as an apprentice.  It is extremely refreshing to see a young person with such enthusiasm to help the fuel poor in her county. Lisa has been instrumental in delivering interventions in hundreds of fuel poor households across Suffolk.

Winning this award would give Lisa the much-deserved recognition for a job well done, one that we are too often unable to provide at a local government level.”

Bill Martin from the Centre for Sustainable Energy was nominated by Kate Thomas

Bill is a volunteer that “gets on with it” reliably contributing to our efforts and making life easy for those he works with, whilst focusing on households that can benefit from his support. Bill has run advice surgeries in Bath on behalf of CSE, using his specialist knowledge, through courses such as the NEA/City & Guilds award in Energy Awareness, to help around 750 households. “Bill has volunteered with Centre for Sustainable Energy since 2012 and ahead of his retirement to focus on other pursuits we would like to take the opportunity to thank him for all he has done. It should be recognised how central his role has been to supporting some of the most vulnerable and fuel poor households in our area” commented Kate Thomas.

Shareen Elnagy, one of the energy advisors, said of Bill: “Bill is an amicable character who has been an absolute delight to work with since I started at CSE. He always has a smile on his face whilst helping others, showing empathy and commitment to those who need our help, and we would not have been able to reach out to so many households without Bill. On behalf of CSE I would like to say a huge thank you to Bill for all his hard work over the last 6 years.”

Judith Cosaitis, Community Safety Manager on behalf of London Fire Brigade’s Community Safety team was nominated by Helen Newton

Fire, Safe and Well is a project being piloted by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and is currently operating in five London Boroughs. Community Safety Advisors (CSAs) are embedded in each of the pilot boroughs and visit vulnerable residents in their homes to identify issues which impact on safety and wellbeing. Some of the people they visit will be isolated, not known to other agencies and at risk of falling between the cracks of statutory support services. Due to the synergies with fire risk, a key priority for the CSAs is to identify and address the signs of fuel poverty, and also understand the impact fuel poverty is having upon residents from both a mental health as well as a health and safety aspect.

The project has many examples of how this has helped people experiencing fuel poverty. One example was an intervention undertaken within Waltham Forest as a result of engagement with a local dementia café. During the visit, the CSA was able to look at the environmental issues within the property and evidence of fuel poverty. The client had referred her to the HEET Project for draught excluders, energy efficiency advice and advice on obtaining winter fuel benefit. Through creating partnerships between LFB and local specialist support services, the CSAs are in a position to provide tailored advice and assistance for people within their community according to their need. This approach, in conjunction with the dedication displayed by all the CSAs to assist the most vulnerable within their communities, has seen many residents feel safer and warmer in their homes.

Tom Ruxton from the HEET project was nominated by Katy Revett at Waltham Borough Council

Tom set up the HEET project in 1999. HEET works closely with social care services and health services, taking referrals for residents living in cold unhealthy homes. As well as working with residents, Tom meets with public sector staff, providing his knowledge and experience to help inform strategic work. This has included a hospital discharge project, which involves taking referrals from organisations and providing packages of measures to improve energy efficiency of people’s homes.

In 2019, HEET celebrates its 20th year, and it is time for Tom’s hard work to be recognised!

Aside from his technical expertise, it is on a personal level that he stands out. In his dealings with HEET service users, he is helpful, open and treats everyone with care, understanding and empathy. He frequently goes out of his way to help individuals and has developed a holistic approach to people’s complex problems, something that he encourages among the rest of HEET employees. In total, around 7000 households in Waltham Forest have benefited from HEET’s work! As residents have commented:

HEET are lifesavers. I would be lost and in serious trouble without HEET. As I’m disabled HEET means ‘life or death’ to me. Love HEET.”

HEET were amazing. Tom did everything he could to help me which resulted in new central heating which I never could have afforded. Wonderful HEET with wonderful, kind and friendly people who actually care!”

Mosrath Jahan from Bromley by Bow Centre was nominated by Jo Goodman

Mosrath is an incredible energy advisor. She’s not someone who shouts about what she does, but she gets great outcomes for her clients and the gratitude and respect they have for her speaks volumes. In the past year in supporting over 200 clients she has: managed almost £100,000 of utility and other debts; accessed almost £60,000 in additional annual income; saved over £10,000 by switching tariffs, and accessed grants worth more than £23,000 for debt arrears relief. Our office walls are littered with cards from clients expressing their gratitude for the wonderful service she has provided them. One client verbally shared what Mosrath’s support had meant to them. One said:

You stood in the gap and fought tirelessly with your mighty pen and paper. The battle came to an end with good news! You won the battle. You got us out of debt of gas and electricity worth so much. This was a figure of £4,000. The charity paid it all at once. All debt cleared. We are now on track with our fuel bill.”

Others said: “In this lousy world we sometimes forget there are still nice people who do nice things. Thanks for being such a wonderful reminder.” “I’d love to see Mosrath get the recognition she deserves”.

Dr Mark Fishpool from Middlesbrough Environment City was nominated by Mark Dallen of EDF Energy

Mark was a founding member of the Middlesbrough Affordable Warmth Partnership (MAWP) and has been the partnerships chair for 10 years. MAWP takes a holistic approach to addressing all aspects of affordable warmth and has embedded affordable warmth within the One Planet Living model that Middlesbrough has adopted.

Through his leadership at Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC) Mark has forged an excellent relationship with public health and has been the driving force behind raising the profile of affordable warmth at a strategic level and has been successful in accessing funding from them to support the agenda across Middlesbrough and into Redcar & Cleveland.  During the winter of 2017/18 the Partnership helped over 1,800 people.

Led by Mark with his passion and commitment to tackling fuel poverty, Middlesbrough has not only been pioneering with its ECO Flexible Eligibility work but has a proactive and effective partnership and action plan. Mark has travelled across the country to share knowledge with other organisations and local authorities who are in the early stages of establishing their own Affordable Warmth Partnerships. Mark also regularly speaks at conferences and seminars keen to share good practice and his wealth of experience.

Karen Leach from Community Energy Plus was nominated by Laura Tregonning

Karen uses her energy, drive and technical knowledge to help vulnerable households in Cornwall escape from the misery, anxiety and ill health caused by fuel poverty.

She has almost ten years’ experience of providing phone-based energy advice for Community Energy Plus and in the last three years Karen’s role has broadened significantly and she helped to shape and deliver our in-home advice, hand-holding and advocacy services. This includes our Big Lottery Funded Energy Wise Project which she now works within as a caseworker. Karen frequently helps clients to apply for energy trust fund grants to alleviate fuel debt. She also puts together funding jigsaws from multiple benevolent funds when no assistance is available. She often goes the extra mile to improve the longer-term outcomes of clients by overcoming barriers that would otherwise stop them progressing towards resolutions. This has included driving clients to their bank to help them access bank statements needed to apply for grants and schemes and helping very vulnerable clients to apply for benefits for the first time.

Karen is an invaluable asset to Community Energy Plus and indeed the vulnerable householders she helps and for this reason I believe she deserves the title of Heat Hero.” said Laura.

Katie Baker from YES Energy Solutions was nominated by Heidi Hawkins

What makes Katie so special is her determination to drive the company to make a difference for an ever-increasing number of people – consistently exceeding expectations whilst connecting the company to a broad range of proactive organisations who share our drive to cut carbon and fight fuel poverty. During the 2017-18 financial year, Katie developed 16 energy efficiency projects saving residents £37,533,000 in lifetime fuel bill savings and 23,406 lifetime tonnes of carbon. Katie was also responsible for securing 42 ECO funding contracts with five utility companies which has improved the energy efficiency of 4,797 homes.

One of Katie’s outstanding achievements was the development of a nationwide gas connection project which helped five housing associations access funding through the Fuel Poverty Network Extension Scheme. Katie has a knack for pushing and evolving projects to exceed their targets. Barry Ashford, an 84-year-old resident said: “I’ve lived at my property for 40 years with my wife, and we have always suffered when the cold weather comes around. The installation has made a great difference to how warm our home stays.”

Gerald Davies from Citizens Advice Rhondda Cynon Taff was nominated by Kylie Bell

Gerald demonstrates great passion in his role as Utilities Champion and is meticulous in helping our clients resolve their issues. He provides clients with comprehensive energy advice and last year he advised over 250 clients with gains of over £67,000. Last year as an Energy Champion he trained over 200 individuals in areas such as Smart Meters and accessing grants for people experiencing fuel poverty. Gerald has made a significant contribution to helping people overcome fuel poverty by developing relationships with key stakeholders such as suppliers, regulators, and food banks, Nest Wales, local authorities and housing associations. His likeable down-to-earth character and direct approach helped bring together a holistic energy support network in Rhondda Cynon Taff. Gerald’s can-do attitude and confidence to represent vulnerable clients’ views have resulted in him providing guidance at a strategic level with suppliers and training organisations. For instance, he has provided input into Welsh Water’s Vulnerability Strategy and feedback from an operational level on NEA’s new training programme. He also liaises with energy advisers across the Citizens Advice Network to raise policy issues to help tackle fuel poverty.

Jason Taylor from Southampton City Council was nominated by Adam Goulden from The Environment Centre

Most recently Jason has been instrumental in developing, managing and setting up Southampton City Council’s new not-for-profit energy company CitizEn Energy. Thanks to Jason’s commitment to reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions, CitizEn offers simple, fairly-priced tariffs and 100% green electricity. In addition, CitizEn voluntarily provides the core group Warm Home Discount and any profits go back into projects to help improve the lives of fuel poor people within the community. Since it launched in June 2018, CitizEn has gained 1,827 meter points and 1,069 customers. Jason and his colleagues have engaged 917 residents and distributed nearly 3,000 flyers. Jason is already looking for the next opportunity to support fuel poor residents, such as providing ECO funding to help consumers improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

We think that Jason deserves to win a Heat Hero award because of his perseverance in setting up CitizEn Energy and his ongoing commitment to reducing fuel poverty in Southampton and across the region. He took a risk in difficult economic times, addressed the many concerns raised and has succeeded in delivering on the pledges he made. His dedication, collaborative approach and reliability are an example of best practice working from a local authority and can only be commended.” said Adam.

Published on 24-01-2019
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