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First ever Fuel Bank opens in Hull

The Trussell Trust and energy supplier npower is today launching the first ever Fuel Bank in Hull. 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 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 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*. 

After receiving fuelbank voucher, Kevin, a client of the Foodbank said “the Foodbank has enabled me to feed myself and receiving the fuel bank voucher means I can cook the food given to me and put the lights on in my house.”

The scheme is for people with a valid Hull Foodbank voucher, who, if eligible to receive the credit, could use it 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.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, Hull Foodbank distributed over 4,900 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis in Hull, 1,271 of which were given to children. 31% of people used the Foodbank due to delays in receiving their benefits, 16% due to benefit changes and 19% were due to having a low income. 

Sarah Sidwell, manager of Hull Foodbank, said “ We are thrilled to be partnering with npower to start the Fuel bank in Hull. Many of the people we help live in homes where there is a prepayment meter and already explain to our team that they are forced to make the difficult decision on where limited budgets are spent and the Fuel Bank now means they will be able to cook the food we provide. Fuel Bank is adding another ‘string to our bow’ as we continue to offer additional help and information to the local people we help.”

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 and Hull  – including opening Fuel Banks in Scotland and Wales – meaning we can reach thousands more people in crisis.”