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First ever Fuel Bank opens in Hastings

The Trussell Trust and energy supplier npower is today launching the first ever Fuel Bank in Hastings. 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 and this will increase to £49 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 trialed 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 an evaluation of the scheme. In-depth interviews with a sample of people who had been helped by the Fuel Bank found that many were from households with dependent children, while almost a third said someone in their home suffered from ill health or a condition made worse by the cold. The inability to afford adequate power interrupted ordinary family life which in turn exacerbated conditions such as stress and anxiety*. 

Attending the launch at Hastings Foodbank was Shannon**, a client of the Foodbank. Shannon said: “I’m expecting my first child and have also started caring for my niece. I recently found out that my benefits will be delayed for a few weeks because of these changes in my circumstances, and I’m really struggling to pay the bills. I’m so grateful for the fuel voucher – it’s been a life-saver as I’ve been able to have warm water, cook hot meals and keep me and my young niece warm.”

The Hastings Foodbank is run by volunteers from ‘Churches Together’ and Kings Church Hastings. Between April 2015 and March 2016, the Foodbank distributed 4,044 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis in Hastings, 1,506 of which were given to children.

 

Jeff Beale, coordinator of Hastings Foodbank, said “The partnership we’ve built with npower, throught the Trussell Trust, gives us the opportunity to support low income families or people who are struggling with day to day living costs. The Fuel Bank 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 our first Fuel Bank in the South – meaning we can reach thousands more people in crisis.”

Notes to Editors

The Fuel Bank Research can be viewed on the NEA website at: www.nea.org.uk/?p=1523


**Name changed to protect identity   


How the npower Fuel Bank works:


The npower Fuel Bank has been designed to utilise the existing Foodbank referral process.


Step 1


Individuals who are identified as being in crisis by frontline professionals, such as Citizens Advice Bureaus, GPs, social workers or police, are issued with a Foodbank voucher to redeem at their local Foodbank.


Step 2


When the individual goes to the Foodbank with their voucher, if their household is supplied by npower on a prepayment meter (PPM) for electricity and/or gas, they will receive a top-up voucher. Non-npower PPM customers who are deemed most in need by the Foodbank manager (or a senior staff member) will also receive a voucher. As the issuing of a pre-payment top up is mirroring the eligibility criteria of the Foodbanks, as standard customers will be issued vouchers a maximum of three times per crisis. This would be managed via the frontline professional who completes the referrals.


Step 3


npower will provide a unique npower Fuel Bank voucher either directly to the client via a text message or if the client does not have a mobile phone the voucher can be sent back to the Foodbank who will then contact the individual via an agreed means (email or in person) to share this voucher.


Step 4


The individual then takes this code to any shop with a PayPoint machine where it can be redeemed against electricity and/or gas using their pre-payment key or card at no cost to the customer. The npower Fuel Bank code can only be used for electricity and gas.


Step 5


Once the code has been redeemed, when the individual puts the relevant pre-payment key or card in their meter or meters the money will appear as a credit.


For further information please contact:


Zoe Melarkey, npower PR manager, 07795 354 559 Zoe.Melarkey@npower.com


Abby Jitendra or Andy May , Abby.Jitendra@trusselltrust.org;  Andy.May@trusselltrust.org