A local project which won a national award for its inventiveness and caring approach has been expanded to help more vulnerable people in Newcastle and Northumberland.
Warm Hubs is an innovative project and approach by Community Action Northumberland to help support vulnerable and fuel poor people living across rural Northumberland. The project started over a year ago and its success in winning the Community Action Award from NEA, the national fuel poverty charity, has enabled the project to be rolled out to a number of new hubs. The competition, held jointly with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and British Gas, accepted entries from all not-for-profit groups and organisations in England and Wales that demonstrate innovative approaches to tackling fuel poverty.
Warm Hubs are places within the local community where vulnerable people can be assured of finding a safe, warm and friendly environment in which to enjoy a healthy, good value meal, the company of other people and social activity as well as access to information, advice and referrals to help them heat their homes affordably in winter. Twenty Warm Hubs have been rolled out in rural Northumberland and further hubs are now being established in urban areas in Newcastle. Northern Gas Networks has supported the initiative from the outset and is now working with Together-Newcastle, a joint venture between the Diocese of Newcastle and Church Urban Fund to create the city-based Warm Hubs.
Christine Nicholls, Community Development Officer for CAN said “Warm Hubs supports the sustainability of community buildings, provides training opportunities for volunteers and a place for the local community to meet and access services. The development of the Warm Hub model and the roll out to other parts of the country would not have happened without the support of NEA’s Community Action Award”.
Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at NEA said: “I’m delighted to hear that the Community Action Award has helped establish and inspire the creation of these fantastic Warm Hubs that really help vulnerable people in the local communities. One of the aims of the award has always been to encourage sharing of best practice and replicating models that work on the ground and for those who need it most and this is an excellent example of that happening.”
Tom Bell, Head of Social Strategy, Northern Gas Networks, said: “Fuel poverty is a huge problem throughout our region but it’s great to see the lessons learned through our rural Warm Hubs benefitting our first urban Warm Hub at St Paul’s. This will be the first of what NGN and Together Newcastle hope will be a growing programme of urban Warm Hubs and I look forward to the success of this project and to helping a greater diversity of communities through the Warm Hubs. Many people don’t realise they are eligible for a free or discounted connection, so we hope these events will allow us to find more people eligible for free gas connections, or supply energy efficiency advice.”
If you are involved in an innovative local project related to the fight against fuel poverty, promoting affordable warmth and energy efficiency to vulnerable households in your community you could be one of the winners of the Energy Impact Awards 2017-18 (this year’s version of the Community Action Awards). The Energy Impact Awards will open in April and information will be available on www.nea.org.uk