Fuel Bank - 2 years of making a difference

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Times are tough: 13 million people in the UK live below the poverty line, and 950,000 UK households are in Income Crisis & can’t pay 2 or more essential bills.

We’ve seen from our work with partner charities like The Trussell Trust and Durham Christian Partnership how far-reaching the effects of poverty can be first hand. And we wanted to do something about it. So we pledged £2.25 million towards helping vulnerable families get back on their feet.

In April 2015, we launched the  npower Fuel Bank™ with the Trussell Trust and National Energy Action (NEA). After a successful trial in four areas (Kingston Upon Thames, Durham, Gloucester and the Wirral) the scheme has now been rolled out to 61 centres nationwide.

npower launches Scotland's first ever Fuel Bank at Glasgow South East Foodbank. (l-r) Fuel voucher receiver, Florian, Foodbank Manager, Audrey, npower's Matt Cole and Foodbank volunteer

npower launches Scotland’s first ever Fuel Bank at Glasgow South East Foodbank. (l-r) Fuel voucher receiver, Florian, Foodbank Manager, Audrey, npower’s Matt Cole and Foodbank volunteer

The scheme has helped 95,000 people so far

Anyone with a pre-payment meter who gets referred to a participating food bank could qualify for a voucher to provide enough credit for around 2 weeks of energy. And as you can see from the comments below, it’s making a huge difference:

Fuel Bank Stories

Anon. from London

“I guess it was years of working as a removals man that did my back in. I trapped a nerve, the area got infected and now I suffer from chronic pain. I’ve got arthritis too, which doesn’t help. With things the way they are, I can’t work and instead rely on disability benefits. In November, these stopped, leaving me without money for the winter.

“Going hungry a few times isn’t the end of the world; you learn to eat less. It was the cold that got to me. My flat’s small and reasonably well insulated, but with the arthritis, I felt it right down to my bones.

“I went along to the food bank hoping that eating a little bit more could help me weather the cold but I was so grateful to also receive help with the fuel bills – that was a life saver. Thanks to the warmer flat, I wasn’t in as much pain and didn’t have the stress of having to choose between food or fuel, or health or debt.

I’m doing a bit better now and am able to stay on top of bills, but without npower’s Fuel Bank™ voucher, I would have had a very, very difficult winter.”

Anon.  from Glasgow

“A while back I had some difficulty getting my benefits and I’d run out of money. I couldn’t afford food and the power was out. I had no light, no heat – nothing at all. I was desperate, basically. I went along to the food bank and they told me I could also get help with my energy.”

npower's Fuel Bank voucher for Foodbank users

npower’s Fuel Bank voucher for Foodbank users

“I remember just breathing this big sigh of relief. Honestly, it was fantastic. I would have nothing without that. No power, nothing. I don’t know what I would have done. Then a couple of months later, I had problems with my benefits again, and they helped me out again.”

“They’re amazing, they really are. There are people like me sitting a home in the dark, in the cold, and hungry and then they go along and do something like that. I’m so grateful, honest to God. And now I’m in a brand new house and I hope the problems are behind me. I’ll never forget their help though, through the hard times.”

40% of our vouchers help families with children

Clare, Birmingham

“My partner and I live in a first floor flat with our two boys. It is important we keep our home warm because of my disability – and damp conditions within the flat mean that we have a weekly heating bill of £60, which we struggle to pay. Having the voucher has been a god-send as I’ve been able to keep healthy by heating our home, cook hot meals and keep the children warm – simple things we all do every day and often take for granted.”

We’re just getting started

Our work isn’t done yet. There are still people in crisis all over the UK. That’s why we’ve committed to support this great cause until at least 2018. It’s also why Fuel Bank™ support is available to everyone that needs it – regardless of whether we supply their energy or not. In fact, of the vouchers we’ve issued to date, 84% have already gone to people with different energy providers.

If you run a business and are concerned about being able to pay your energy bills, we can help. Start by taking a look at our post on Coping with Energy Debt.

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