An energy-saving light at the endof the tunnel

The plight of a Rochdale resident living without light and heating for three years is a potent reminder why Working Well (Work and Health Programme) in Greater Manchester is promoting its information campaign to reduce fuel poverty amongst its clients.
 
Delivered by Ingeus, Working Well (Work and Health Programme) is an employment support scheme that provides a route into work for long-term unemployed people, many with disabilities and health conditions.
 
“We are seeing a growing number of individuals who are struggling to meet their electricity and gas bills because they are on limited incomes,” said Shaid Shakoor  (Sly) with Working Well (Work and Health Programme). “We have linked in with a number of energy providers, such as Electricity Northwest, United Utilities and the Cadent Gas Network, to put together practical guides that show the range of current options and schemes that will help reduce their costs and improve energy efficiency in their homes.
 
“The story of David, who is unemployed and lives alone in a first-floor flat, has really inspired all of our Ingeus teams to promote the help that is available - particularly for people who have a health issue. David is a very proud man and never told his key worker the issues that he was facing.
 
“Before he came to see us, he would visit a public facility with hot water so he could discreetly wash and shave. He then went to a charity shop and bought a shirt, which was clean and ironed, to look presentable when he came to the office. He had been able to continue like this until the lockdown restrictions and then we found out the truth.”
 
Hard Choices
 
David, aged 62, explained: “I had a simple choice; it was either food or electricity for light and heating. I felt that I could keep warm by wearing extra layers in the flat but you cannot keep alive without a meal once a day. I can’t quite believe this situation has continued for three years.”
 
“I was paying for my electricity by direct debit. My money ran out and eventually moving to a pre-paid meter just saw me struggling again to keep up with the payments.”
 
Still being proactive
 
Working Well (Work and Health Programme) has been staging energy information events across their offices in the Greater Manchester area.  At the moment the employment advisors can no longer meet their clients face to face, but are keeping in contact remotely and are still able to offer advice on job opportunities and promote the energy saving campaign.
 
Working Well (Work and Health Programme) is an initiative commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and receives support from the European Social Fund.
 
Shaid Shakoor added: “The individual energy suppliers and providers also offer grants to their customers to help with fuel bill debts and we have found one supplier who runs an energy fund to replace certain white goods such as cookers and fridge-freezers.
 
“There is help available and we are trying to raise awareness of the different schemes that can provide assistance concerning fuel costs and reducing accrued debts.
 
“We want to ensure that there are no more individuals like David, living without heating or light. We are currently negotiating with David’s energy supplier to try and resolve his predicament and help him to be reconnected as soon as possible as part of a plan to reduce his debts.”
 
BBC Radio Manchester
 
David has been interviewed by BBC Radio Manchester about the support he received from our local team, Steph and Shy, to get power back on at his home. Listen to David and Shy talking about how the Working Well Work and Health Programme provided essential support during COVID- 19 at https://www.bbc.co.uk/schedules/p00fzl7z
 
If our programme can help you or someone you know please visit our website to get in touch https://www.inworkgm.co.uk/.