How Speak Up are supporting people with learning disabilities with their energy usage

Speakup co-researchers on the Being Warm Being Happy project have been given a Celebrating Inclusivity Award by National Energy Action (NEA) at the annual conference held in September 2018. The award recognises the work of the Speakup co-researchers, who are people with lived experience.

Funded by the Eaga Charitable Trust, Speakup and the University of Sheffield (led by Professor Angela Tod), asked people with learning disabilities to get involved and for a two-week period temperature measurements were taken in the homes of 10 people with learning disabilities. Together with Dr Bethany Taylor researcher from Sheffield University, Speakup co-researchers Alison, Vicky and Jodie then asked people about how much gas and electricity they thought they used in their homes.

Here’s Vicky

‘We asked people about how they keep warm in their homes. We talked to people who live on their own or with family members. We recorded what they said using a voice recorder, then we listened to the recordings. We also asked about who they could ask for help if this was needed.

We know that people with learning disabilities are at a greater risk of deprivation than the non-learning disabled population. There is hardly any evidence of the extent of fuel poverty for people with a learning disability; however, evidence suggests that a cold home is linked with early death and many physical illnesses and mental illnesses.

This project is split into 3 parts; In part 1, we worked with 10 adults with a learning disability as described at the start of this blog. In part 2, we are looking at the findings from two large surveys conducted in England:

  • The English National Housing Survey
  • The Understanding Society Survey

In these surveys the focus is on homes where an adult with a learning disability live, homes where people with other disabilities live and homes where people without a disability live.

We are comparing these to see whether people with a learning disability are more at risk of being cold at home, or managing to keep a warm house.

In part 3, we held workshops to share what we have found in the parts 1 & 2; adults with learning disabilities as well as those who work in housing, health, social care and energy were invited.

Together, we are developing ideas to help people with learning disabilities keep their homes warm through the year and get support when needed.

This is so exciting: we have met graphic design students to share ideas and see if we can all develop some innovative resources, which will make it easier to understand how we use energy and give us more capacity to understand how much we are spending on it.

Find out more about Speak Up here: http://www.speakup.org.uk/

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