Twelve months after a Citizen Outreach Coalition Liverpool centred energy savings awareness project was launched, more than 450 people, most of them from ethnic minority backgrounds have received vital advice that has helped them reduce their gas and electricity bills. People have benefited from the advice through dozens of home visits, telephone advice, community events and face to face meetings. One of the beneficiaries wrote in gratitude “…thank you for affording me the courtesy of your help and support..In addition to the advice you have provided only to save up on maximum costs we previously experienced – simply by adjusting the utility settings, whilst now it feels we have preserved our gas and electricity consumption to bare minimum usage reaping maximum benefit”. The two year project was funded by the Energy Industrial Voluntary Redress Scheme with funding from energy regulator Ofgem-Office of Gas and Electricity markets. All funding for energy saving projects can be found on the website www.energyredress.org.uk.
Christian Gold House Ministry and Women & Digital Inclusion have been Citizen Outreach Coalition project partners and played a vital role in promoting the project across to people we would not have been able to reach otherwise
Some of the community organisations that have benefitted from the energy reduction awareness campaign so far include Wan Salone, Rainbow 50+ Group, Merseyside Yoruba Community Association & Liverpool Irish Centre. During community events, Project Manager Francis Langley and Adviser Francis Ngwa explained how easy energy saving tips could be applied by anyone to save their energy consumption and so reduce their gas/electricity bills. The measures include taking shorter showers to use less water, turning appliances off and not leaving them on standby mode, avoid using expensive tumbler dryers, using energy saving led light bulbs, turning down room thermostats and lowering combination boiler flow temperatures among other measures. The awareness events were usually animated occasions with Q & A sessions during which the questions and concerns of participants were addressed by the COC officials.
We also made dozens of home visits to some people who needed more personalised advice with most people needing help with setting their home timers, room thermostats and boiler temperature levels.
Over the twelve months, we have worked closely with two Liverpool based organisations, Christian Gold House Ministry (CGHM) & Women and Digital Inclusion (WODIN). Both partners have helped in project promotion and signposting people who needed advice on tips to reduce their energy consumption and their bills
Mrs Sylvia Kalungi, Lead of WODIN described her association on the project with Citizen Outreach Coalition as “…as a partner, Women & Digital Inclusion are happy to spread the word every time we go to a networking event and every time we have an event ourselves. When we are rolling any workshop session, we let people know about the energy awareness program. We design flyers for the project so that I can actually give them out and sometimes send digital copies”. Pastor Samuel Sarpong, Lead pastor of Christian Gold House Ministry, a Pentecostal church situated in Kensington says he is delighted to be a partner on a project that has “massive community engagement especially now that energy prices are so high”. The church has signposted many beneficiaries from its memberships and people who use a food bank operated from the church premises.
All beneficiaries have been grateful for the timely energy savings advice which started shortly after the cost of living crisis and the dramatic increase in gas and electricity bills in mid 2022. Blessing, one of the beneficiaries from Nigeria said “I benefitted from the advice because I learnt a lot of things about energy savings which I otherwise never knew as a migrant from Nigeria. I didn’t know keeping my electrical appliances on standby cost me money. I didn’t know I have to use the washing machine only on full load. I didn’t know I can control my home heating and hot water supply by simply turning down the boiler temperature. The project opened my eyes to things I took for granted but now know how they affect my final electric and gas bills”. Jeffrey another resident we are still working with was upset when an energy supply company from his former residence sent him a bill claiming he was owing more than £1400 which he said was not possible because he was using a prepayment meter. According to Project adviser Francis Ngwa, Jeffrey was advised him to contact the energy supplier to send a breakdown of the debt so he understands how he could have accrued such a large bill. The supplier did not supply the breakdown but forwarded the debt to a debt collection company. “I am suffocating silently”, Jeffrey said in a whatsapp message. Jeffrey has since reported the matter to ofgem but is not sure even that will resolve the issue
According to energy advice project Manager Francis Langley, the project will run for the next one year and “we hope to reach at least 1200 people by the time the project ends in October 2024”. Mr Langley continued “…the project came at a time there was high need and a lot of people needed help and support.
The Project is expected to end in September 2024.