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First ever Fuel Bank opens in Gamesley

Energy supplier npower is today launching the first ever Fuel Bank in Gamesley.  The scheme gives foodbank users with pre-payment meters vouchers for gas or electricity, so they do not have to choose between ‘heating and eating’.

Because the scheme gives people around two weeks’ worth of energy, the value of the voucher will fluctuate between the winter and summer months: from April to end October the value will be £30.00 and this will increase to £49.00 from 1st November to 31st March.

First launched in April 2015 with the Trussell Trust, National Energy Action (NEA) and Durham Christian Partnership, the npower Fuel Bank™ has so far been trialled in four areas (Kingston on Thames, Durham, Gloucestershire and the Wirral) and is now being rolled out more widely.

Before making the decision to extend the scheme, npower commissioned  NEA, the UK fuel poverty charity, to undertake in-depth interviews with people who have been helped by Fuel Banks so far. The research found that, almost half of the people spoken to were households with dependent children,  including many of pre-school age. Almost a fifth had a disability or limiting long-term illness and around a third had a health condition that could be worsened by the cold*.

Clare** a mother of four children and a regular user of the Foodbank said: “Today, I ran out of gas and used up the emergency credit on the meter. My partner is out of work and we’ve been struggling with no heating or hot water at home. Having the voucher has help me a great deal as I’ve been able to heat our home and keep the children warm, particularly as the weather has turned cold again this week.”

The scheme is for clients who access the G52 Bellies Not Bins Scheme and who could be eligible to receive the credit which they can use to repay emergency credit and top up their gas and electricity meter. This enables households that have run out of energy to get the power back on within a few hours and keep the lights and heating on for around two weeks.

Gamesley G52 Bellies Not Bins was set up in June 2013, and in 2014/15 helped over 3651 people, including around 1460 children under 16.

Pat Javanaud, manager of in Gamesley G52 Bellies Not Bins, said “This is a wonderful partnership and gives us the opportunity to support low income families or people who are struggling with day to day living costs. The Fuelbank allows us to give that immediate help. It’s not just topping up their gas and electric, it’s giving them their dignity back: they’re able to go home and have a hot meal, have a hot shower, as well as heat their homes.”

Guy Esnouf, npower’s Director of Corporate Responsibility said: “Our first step was to trial the Fuel Bank in four areas last year. This proved the concept works - getting the right support to the people who need it most. We’re now expanding to ten new areas across the UK – including opening Fuel Banks in Scotland and Wales – meaning we can reach thousands more people in crisis.”