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Fuel Bank® helps over 10,000 in Birmingham

A scheme which provides funds to pay for energy, alongside emergency food, has helped 11,315 people* in Birmingham since its launch in May last year.

The npower Fuel Bank® aims to remove the stark choice between heating or eating by giving foodbank users with pre-payment meters vouchers for gas or electricity - whether or not they are npower customers. This enables households that have run out of energy to get the power back on, usually within the same day, and keep the lights and heating on for around two weeks.

In this winter season alone, and with the release of the winter voucher on 1st November **, 562 people have benefitted from the scheme, including 241 children.

The scheme is a partnership between npower and The Trussell Trust, and now runs in 14 areas and 65 foodbank centres across the country. Since the launch of the pilot scheme two and a half years ago, the initiative has helped nearly 78,000 people* across the UK, providing more than £1.5 million worth of emergency gas or electricity. It is hoped that with the recent launch of the npower Foundation, an independent charity, Fuel Bank will be able to help even more people in fuel crisis

Darren McLoughlin, a client helped by the B30 Foodbank last winter, explained how he ended up there and how it helped: “I suffer from Merniere’s disease and so have to rely on benefits to keep my family of six afloat. One day there were complications and the money stopped, leaving us with less than £100 of child benefit to support ourselves each week. To save money, my wife and I sat with quilts on during the day, only switching on the heating for a couple of hours to heat the house in time for when the kids got back from school. Eventually, we couldn’t even afford that. I don’t know what I would have done if we haven’t been given that fuel voucher – probably something I would have regretted later. But you need both food and fuel, and the help we received saved me from having to make the impossible decision between them.”

Commenting on the figures so far this winter, Matthew Cole, npower’s Head of Social Energy and Trustee of the npower Foundation, said: “As winter starts to bite it is clear that the npower Fuel Bank is offering a much-needed lifeline, providing warmth and hot water, as well as electricity and gas to make a cup of tea or to warm up some soup. Through our new npower Foundation – the npower Fuel Bank charity – we hope to raise more funds so that fewer people have to make the choice between heating or eating.”

Helen Gale, manager of the B30 Foodbank, added: "The Fuel Bank has become an important part of the B30 Foodbank offer to our clients. It is fairly obvious that if you are struggling to put food on the table, you are also likely to be struggling to meet your energy bills. The question of 'heat or eat' is a very real one for many of our clients and the fuel voucher that we are able to offer to those of our clients on prepayment meters is a very welcome help in what is sometimes a very desperate situation.”

 

*This is a measure of people helped by the Fuel Bank, but it is not a measure of unique individuals as some people were helped more than once.

**Fuel vouchers are £30 in the summer months and £49 from 1st November to 31st March.