Heat Heroes winners 2016 announced!

Heat Hero Awards is open to individuals across England and Wales and celebrates those who go above and beyond to get the recognition they deserve – for helping people in their community live in warmer homes.

Held in partnership between ScottishPower and National Energy Action, this year there were some very strong candidates, but the judges managed to select fifteen worthy winners.

Not-for-profit organisations including local authorities, health and social care agencies, voluntary and statutory agencies and community groups were encouraged to nominate staff and volunteers for the award.

Winners represented each region very well this year, here’s a little about each one below:

Rachel Kent, Public Health Specialist at Wiltshire Council nominated by Phillip Morris (CSE)

Rachel gained the responsibility for affordable warmth in 2015. She had inherited a fledgling energy service with limited internal resources and budget for delivery. However Rachel embraced the responsibility and within a year she had built partnerships and used her position in public health to build a single-point-of-contact cold homes referral service. The service met most of the NICE guidance and is leading the way in many areas. Rachel has helped support more than 800 people through the cold homes referral process. She also partnered with the Royal College of GPs in Wiltshire and 25 over 20 GP practices are already signed up to make referrals. In partnership with others, including the Centre for Sustainable Energy, she brought in £300,000 of energy efficiency and cold homes support. She delivered joint initiatives internally at the council to tackle fuel poverty. She also created an energy advice section for the adult social care database at the council to further integrate health with energy provision.

Shelly Davis, Warm and Well Project – South Yorkshire Energy Centre nominated by Chris Shaw, Sheffield City Council

Shelly leads the Warm and Well Project team who are described by Chris Shaw, the Head of Health Improvement at Sheffield Council, as the single team best known across the city for their ability to work with multiple partners – with limited funding. She has driven the service and supported her team in becoming the ‘go to’ organisation. For example adult social care projects weave Shelly into their work on reducing unplanned admissions to hospital as they know that she will be useful. She has overall responsibility for having created coherent projects from separate funding streams, and bringing partners together on the issue of fuel poverty. She is able to find those most in need and to give them hands on help. She is able to successfully relay what is happening to those in fuel poverty and the difficulties that they have to face to potential funders and others who are in a position to help.

James Foster, City of Wolverhampton Council nominated by Mandy Findlay Housing Improvement Officer.

James is an Advanced Apprentice and at the age of 18 has already achieved a great deal in his short career. He goes above and beyond in his work. For example when he visited an older couple, a gentleman who suffered from PTSD and his wife who was bed ridden. He noticed that it was exceptionally cold and swiftly arranged a visit with contractors to have the works finished quickly so that the older couple could be comfortable and warm in their home. He also put their minds at rest over the costs as the council would pay the bill. He is keen to learn and has achieved a number of qualifications including a City and Guilds in Energy Awareness to help when delivering the Affordable Warmth Grant. He has also developed programmes to help improve how information is kept and he helps colleagues who are less skilled on these systems.

Ted Evans, Age Connects North Wales Central nominated by Alison Price

Ted who is now 93 has achieved a tremendous amount for the service where he started volunteering 11 years ago. He helped people with welfare benefits advice as well as working on a number of other projects. He has since secured a part time role on the Cold Buster project and helps support other older people by maximising their income, tariff swapping, giving energy advice and encouraging people to get the flu vaccination. He passed the City and Guilds in Fuel Debt in the Community with flying colours. He visits client’s homes and takes new volunteers along to help them learn how to approach the work. He has had a great impact on the service. He still volunteers outside of his paid work and is determined to extend the Cold Buster project to a new veterans group he has made contact with.

Ian Calvert, YES Energy Solutions nominated by Jos Mister

Last year Ian was appointed Project Manager of the North Lincolnshire Park Homes Insulation scheme – funded via NEA’s Technical Innovation Fund to insulate 35 homes. Most of the houses were in a state of disrepair and the residents were at risk of fuel poverty. Ian built up a great rapport with householders and became part of the local community. When a contractor pulled out of doing the floor insulation there was difficulty finding another installer willing to carry out the work due to complicated structures and difficult access routes. Ian knew that the residents would benefit from it however and decided to step in. He insulated the floors himself, spending his weekends working around under the homes. An industry qualified installer; he did extra training to make sure each one was insulated professionally, promptly and safely. It would have been easy to have dropped the floor insulation from the project but Ian invested his time and effort to help residents keep warm for less.

Kim Bartle, Affordable Warmth at Boston Mayflower nominated by Katy Roberts

Kim’s manager, who began her role last year, highlighted how much Kim had done in a short time. Over just a year she carried out an incredible amount of work to help people in need. She went the extra mile in helping people to reduce their fuel debt, helped them with new equipment and liaised with companies on their behalf. Kim lobbied and fought for her clients in some cases. She became a solar PV champion, training members of new staff across the organisation on how it works. Kim has supported 235 tenants over 12 months and helped tenants save over £43,200 by switching deals and accessing grants etc. She was also personally named by many tenants in feedback about the service to say that she was a credit to the company, that she is helpful, professional, caring and friendly.

Jake Ellis, Plymouth Energy Community nominated by Clare Mains

Jake is 21 and started with PEC as a 19 year old apprentice during a project to trial community outreach and home visits to tackle fuel poverty in Plymouth. Since then, Jake has helped to train frontline workers for over 20 partners and advised almost 2000 residents on keeping bills down and staying warm and well. Over a period of just three months this year, Jake improved the financial wellbeing of four families beyond their expectations – by £4600 a year each through unclaimed benefits and energy advice. He helps tackle fuel and household debt regularly through grant referrals and partnership working and is cheerfully hands on too, crawling into cupboards to read meters and changing lightbulbs for the vulnerable and elderly.

Jack Dangerfield and Tim Beecher, Brighton & Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCO) nominated by Dan Curtis

Jack and Tim started volunteering a year ago at BHESCO and ran energy advice surgeries as part of the Big Energy Saving Network. After gaining funding for a home energy assessment service they have visited about 100 households in fuel poverty. Thanks to the work of the duo, the service has now grown and will soon be extended to nearby Lewes. As well as analysing energy bills and helping people switch suppliers, the two have also installed some simple measures for households such as radiator reflector panels. In cases where some people were in particular need the pair had a big impact. For example for an elderly man who had no heating for three years and on another occasion, a single mum of three – saving her £800 per year. Travelling everywhere on their bicycles, Tim and Jack have been to all corners of Brighton and Hove in all weather conditions.

Kirsty Burns, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council nominated by Debra Baillie-Murden

Kirsty joined the team in 2012 and was able to refocus her role as Climate Change Officer to offer extra support to those at risk of fuel poverty. She helped secure over £2m in funding and was integral in projects that reduced fuel bills for over 1000 vulnerable residents across the two districts. Kirsty has led on the delivery of a number of projects over the years including collective switching (the Norfolk Big Switch & Save has helped 1000 homes secure competitive tariffs for energy); boiler servicing (200 homes benefited from means-tested funding to have their boiler serviced); Green Deal Communities (Kirsty identified and targeted fuel-poor households and over 300 grants were approved); British Gas Energy Trust (£70,000 of capital funding is allocated for delivery to low income and vulnerable residents across Broadland and South Norfolk.

Rosie Thorpe, Beat the Cold (Changes4Warmth project) nominated by Michaela Fyson

 Rosie works for the Changes4Warmth project which is a partnership between Beat the Cold and Changes, Health and Wellbeing – a Staffordshire-based mental health charity funded by the Big Lottery. Rosie makes homes visits to vulnerable people who might not otherwise have coped with changing their tariff or known how to save energy and reduce their bills. For instance she helps Jane – a recovering alcoholic suffering from acute depression. Rosie helped Jane with a number of things: giving basic advice on how to minimise consumption, and she supplies, fits and demonstrates how an energy monitor can help. It helps because for someone in depression and in recovery, not having to worry about this was a major achievement, and Rosie was instrumental in this.

Christine Nicholls, Community Action Northumberland nominated by ten people from local organisations

Christine is the only person in the organisation who works on fuel poverty and energy. She is part time and often attends events and training in her own time, which has included Christmas Day in the past. Christine’s future plans are to work with young people to educate and involve them in the fight against fuel poverty. She hopes to establish energy forums across the county run by young people to give them an opportunity to have their say in the community and to take action and make a difference. Her determination, hard work and vision have helped her reach over 6100 people. She came up with the idea for the very successful Warm Hubs project – which is now being considered for national rollout. Christine has been proactive in organising and promoting energy events to help the fuel poor. This has included extensive community engagement and individual support; organising Christmas hampers and giving fuel poverty support to Northern Gas Networks. She helped support the Central Heating Fund and other schemes and has done much more – all with a smile on her face.

 Debra Fox, ENGIE Ltd in partnership with North East Lincolnshire Council nominated by Jacqui Wells

Debra has worked as the Energy Efficiency officer within North East Lincolnshire for over 10 years.  During this time she has set up Hotspots – a scheme providing frontline services with a central location for referrals in partnership with the local Health Trusts, Fire Service and other Frontline Services, helping on average 800 residents a year. The scheme currently helps residents maximise income, receive energy and housing advice, access to funding schemes to help pay for heating and home improvements or help  and fire safety assessments. She works with other partners to promote energy awareness, training health staff and agencies who visit the vulnerable, to help them understand the signs of fuel poverty.  Debra helped recruit volunteers, training them to be Energy Community Champions from a group of older people to help combat affordable warmth issues in the area. The campaign was so successful that the Snug as a Bug campaign was born and has now enjoyed eight years of success.  She is regularly seen around the borough promoting energy efficiency with pop-up stands in supermarkets, doctor’s surgeries and community events.

Angela Broadhurst, Oldham Council nominated by John Rooney

Angela was responsible for developing the first payments-by-results scheme in the country to tackle fuel poverty – Warm Homes Oldham and now coordinates this ground-breaking scheme. Warm Homes Oldham is an innovative partnership involving with the Oldham Council, Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group and housing partners in Oldham Housing Investment Partnership (OHIP). Thanks to her leadership, drive and enthusiasm, over 3500 people were lifted out of fuel poverty in the first three years of the scheme. Last year alone the scheme attracted £1,283, 853 of external funding. Partners have agreed to continue funding the scheme for future years and the scheme has won a number of national awards. On top of this, Angela has developed an excellent approach to improving home energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty due to her partnership working which last year resulted in over 4,000 energy measures were installed in the borough.

Sandra Kargin, Grwp Cynefin social housing group, nominated by Ieuan Davies

Sandra went from strength to strength; having been unemployed for two years she became involved in the Community Energy Award project which addresses fuel poverty, economic activity and carbon reduction. The project provides work placements to people not in work who then work with residents in deprived communities. Sandra felt she had very limited training and qualifications on her CV. But in just three years of being involved in the project she has gained numerous qualifications including a City and Guilds in Introduction to Energy Efficiency and another in Energy Awareness. She even gained a GCSE in Welsh language. She helped mentor three new Energy Wardens, she has helped advise about 1200 residents with the team and she even gained third place for TPAS Cymru’s Tenant of the Year award 2014.

Giles Read, Thinking Works, nominated by Natalie Sansom of Harrow Council

Giles Read is the MD of not-for-profit company Thinking Works. Whilst he is responsible for the company’s strategic direction, Giles also carries out home visits – giving residents advice on how to reduce their bills or how to find the best deal for them. He is caring and positive and for this reason goes above and beyond what is expected of him as a contractor. Under his direction Thinking Works has delivered the borough’s fuel poverty programme on time and within budget. For both years of the project he has exceeded the target number of households they aimed to reach. Thinking Works has also recently donated to Furzedown Low Carbon Zone – a local voluntary organisation promoting sustainability and to Friends of Streatham Cemetery to help turn a disused vestry into a community centre.

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