A new project – called Warm Minds – is being rolled out by the fuel poverty charity National Energy Action with support from E.ON – one of the UK Big Six energy companies.
The Warm Minds Project pilot project was initially funded by Scottish Power Energy People’s Trust.
Frontline support agency staff who notice that those they’re working with are living in cold, damp homes, that they may struggle to heat, will be given energy advice training to help them to help others. These issues can pose a serious risk to physical health and mental wellbeing and frontline workers are often the ones who spot problems first.
‘Warm Minds’ will also be looking to work directly with people who are affected and their carers, to improve living conditions and keep homes warm and healthy.
There will be a range of activities to help people better understand how to use and manage energy and appliances at home, interpret energy bills, access better energy deals, schemes and services in the East Midlands, Yorkshire, Merseyside, South Wales and north-east and south-east England.
Malcolm Dove, Project Manager at National Energy Action, commented: “Mental health is negatively affected by fuel poverty and cold housing for any age group. The detrimental physical effects of living in cold, damp homes are well accepted but the psychological side cannot be overlooked.
“Living in cold conditions for long periods can be stressful in itself but can be aggravated further by worry, about accessing energy for health and comfort, managing energy bills and dealing with energy debt.
Fiona Stark, an E.ON spokesman, said: “We work hard to ensure that we provide our vulnerable customers with additional help to manage their energy use and we’re pleased to be extending this support to the Warm Minds project.
“It’s really important that we identify anyone that may need that extra bit of help and we hope this project can make a real difference to peoples’ lives; making their energy experience as simple as possible, bringing peace of mind regarding their bills and ensuring they’re comfortable in their homes.”