Empowered by Energy

Empowering refugees and asylum seekers to understand UK energy systems and save money through energy efficiency measures.

41
Est. number of people
who benefit directly

Empowered by Energy's story

Empowered by Energy is a unique energy awareness project empowering newly recognised refugees to the UK, often struggling to survive on extremely low incomes, to overcome the language barrier, understand new energy systems and save money. Funded by UK Power Networks, SSEN and SGN, the workshops are being delivered face-to-face and currently online during the coronavirus crisis by NEA, with expert partners like the Refugee Council and the Helen Bamber Foundation, who work closely with refugees and asylum seekers.

Coming from different climates, refugees won’t automatically know how to keep a home warm, read their energy meter, set up an account or bleed radiators. The workshops build a self-sustaining support network to embed useful life skills and make communities more resilient. Without such support, refugees and asylum seekers can quickly find themselves owing hundreds of pounds to an energy supplier they didn’t know they had. The workshops give them the confidence to contact their energy company and get the support they need, take control of their energy bills and join their Priority Services Register. For example energy companies provide translation services and tariff support, such as the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

“Everything is new for asylum seekers and refugees. On top of everything else they often end up with higher energy bills. Working with UK Power Networks, NEA has been able to support asylum seekers and refugees with energy advice which they can pass on to their families and communities, including by video during the Covid-19 crisis. Being a refugee or asylum seeker is an overwhelming experience and this project gets help to those who need it most.”
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive, NEA

The workshops help to create confident ‘energy champions’ who can share practical tips with others on sustaining safe and warm homes throughout bitterly cold British winters, without unnecessarily falling into energy debt. There are three virtual workshops as part of the project:

Workshop 1
• Explaining why we need to keep warm to keep healthy.
• Who is affected by cold homes.
• What is condensation and damp.
• Carbon monoxide awareness.
• Working out how to keep our homes warm and reduce heat loss.
• Interactive game to consider how to save energy and save money.

Workshop 2
• Managing energy bills
• Energy tips in the kitchen
• Appliances and their costs
• Types of heating
• Types of meter including smart meters.
• Payment methods

Workshop 3
• Getting a good energy deal and how to switch energy supplier.
• Energy tariffs
• True/false quiz on switching
• Help available

Their pilot scheme involved 41 people and ran across several London boroughs. It will be expanded in the coming year.

Useful learnings from Empowered by Energy

  • Running online events with interpreting services takes twice as long as you think it will.
  • How to conduct meetings where participants are accessing Zoom via phones, rather than computers, and designing workshop content to account for this.
  • Small groups work really well in online workshops and enables people to feel comfortable to ask questions.
  • You can still build up a rapport with attendees online even when you speak different languages if you spend time chatting to them over a cup of tea!

Empowered by Energy's metrics

  • Number of people supported, energy savings.

Read more: http://www.nea.org.uk/communityengagement/empowered-by-energy/

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