Empowered by Energy is a unique energy awareness project empowering newly recognised refugees to the UK, often struggling to survive on extremely low incomes, to overcome the language barrier, understand new energy systems and save money. Funded by UK Power Networks, the workshops are being delivered face-to-face and currently online during the coronavirus crisis by NEA, with expert partners from the Refugee Council and the Helen Bamber Foundation, who work closely with refugees.
Coming from different climates, refugees won’t automatically know how to keep a home warm, read their energy meter, set up an account or bleed radiators. The workshops build a self-sustaining support network to embed useful life skills and make communities more resilient. Without such support, refugees and asylum seekers can quickly find themselves owing hundreds of pounds to an energy supplier they didn’t know they had. The workshops give them the confidence to contact their energy company and get the support they need, take control of their energy bills and join their Priority Services Register. For example, energy companies provide translation services and tariff support, such as the Warm Home Discount scheme.
The workshops help to create confident ‘energy champions’ who can share practical tips with others on sustaining safe and warm homes throughout bitterly cold British winters, without unnecessarily falling into energy debt.
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of NEA, said: “Everything is new for asylum seekers and refugees. On top of everything else they often end up with higher energy bills. Working with UK Power Networks, NEA has been able to support asylum seekers and refugees with energy advice which they can pass on to their families and communities, including by video during the COVID-19 crisis. Being a refugee or asylum seeker is an overwhelming experience and this project gets help to those who need it most.”
Beth Nichols, Social Integration Coordinator of the Refugee Council, said: “Accessing suitable housing is just the first step for refugees we work with. Once they have housing, so many of our clients come to us for support understanding their energy bills and with questions about saving money at home. We were delighted to partner with NEA and UK Power Networks who provided our clients with the expert information they needed, and more! Running the sessions online meant that refugees from different areas of London were able to join easily from home without having to make a great journey across the city.”