Refugees and asylum seekers unfamiliar with using energy in the UK are receiving new support thanks to the Empowered by Energy partnership.
THE unique energy awareness project helps newly recognised refugees to the UK, often struggling to survive on extremely low incomes, to overcome the language barrier, understand how energy works in an unfamiliar environment and save money.
In partnership with National Energy Action (NEA), gas distribution network SGN, Scottish & Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) and Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), the programme offers a variety of activities to give refugees and asylum seekers the increased confidence to take control and manage their energy bills, supporting them to keep warm and safe at home.
Interactive online and face-to-face workshops educate participants on energy efficiency tailored to the unique needs of different communities, including tariff switching and information about social tariffs, understanding bills and paying for energy.
The NEA is working with a range of organisations across the UK to raise awareness of the programme, including the Tamil Women’s Group, Migrant Help UK and the Scottish Refugee Council, who directly support refugees and asylum seekers.
Following the workshops, participants receive an energy efficiency pack to support what they’ve learned online, highlighting immediate changes that can be made at home such as radiator foil, LED light bulbs, thermocards, slow cookers and other language-appropriate materials.
The workshops help to create confident ‘energy champions’ who can share practical tips with others in their community on sustaining safe and warm homes without unnecessarily falling into energy debt. For every individual trained, it is expected this will indirectly impact a further ten people who they can pass on advice and knowledge to, with up to 1,200 people benefitting.
Kerry Potter, Group Social Impact and Vulnerability Manager at SGN, said: “We’re proud to be working alongside the NEA and the electricity networks to provide a tailored programme that brings much needed information to refugee and asylum seeker communities, with the aim of achieving warm and safe homes by building energy skills and a support network.”
Jo Boswell, Project Development Manager at National Energy Action, said: “Through Empowered by Energy, we have made a difference to people who have little or no experience of the energy markets in England and Scotland. They have gained knowledge which they are eager to share with their friends, families and the broader community. Without our support, they were unaware of how to help themselves and how to reach out for support.”