South London Together partnership celebrates one year of supporting vulnerable households

29 Feb 2024
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Three people stood in front of a converted bus - on its side: "Come and have a chat today about your health"

A partnership offering personalised energy advice to vulnerable households in South London is celebrating its one-year anniversary of providing support.

We've teamed up with community organisations South East London Community Energy (SELCE) and Thinking Works for the South London Together project, aiming to support over 2,450 households most at risk of fuel poverty each year. Energy cafés, home visits, telephone sessions, warm hubs and workshops provide personalised energy advice over our two-year programme.

Through our Heat Doctor service, we’re able to visit vulnerable households and offer practical help to reduce energy consumption. Heat Doctors provide essential heating system maintenance and simple repairs such as bleeding radiators, repressurising boilers, cleaning the sludge from radiators and adjusting the flow control.

Our one-to-one energy advice sessions use interpreters and energy advisers who speak non-English languages used in the community and work with third-sector partners to make sure communication isn’t a barrier to households in crisis accessing support. During our sessions, we also support households to join the Priority Services Register and raise awareness of the risk of carbon monoxide (CO).

Through workshops and pop-up energy cafés, we’re providing free training to frontline workers at community and faith organisations that work with marginalised groups in South London. The training educates frontline workers on how to identify households in fuel poverty and provides onward support through the South London Together programme.

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A group of smiling people at a stall providing energy advice

Our work is helping people like Ashur (not their real name), who was referred to our service by Citizens Advice Wandsworth. They were in emergency credit and worried they wouldn’t be able to keep their two-year-old child warm through the night. Thinking Works had used up their existing fuel voucher funding in Wandsworth in December but were able to issue a £49 emergency fuel voucher because of SGN funding, which was issued within hours.

Ashur’s family were booked in for an energy assessment, during which they found there was no CO detector and because of SGN funding, they were able to install one for the family. Along with the CO detector, LED lighting and radiator reflector panels were installed. The adviser made onward referrals to the SGN-funded Gas Safe Heating Engineer programme, with an engineer coming out to correct the boiler flow temperature and set the programmer and thermostat, helping to lower bills and tailoring their use to the needs of the family.

Having recently been given asylum from Syria, the family were without basic supplies such as pots, pans, cutlery and bedding and were provided with a £300 voucher through Thinking Works’ internal discretionary fund. They also received donated furniture via a referral to Dons Local Action group. The family were also referred to Energy Max for budget support to deal with a debt owed to their energy supplier.

Without SGN funding, we would not have been able to offer a fuel voucher and without this crisis support, it is unlikely the family would have engaged with us to receive all the other elements of help we were able to provide.

SGN funding has been invaluable in extending our service offering and reach and is now an essential part of our service.

Giles Read

Managing Director at Thinking Works