Safe and warm homes

Age Scotland 

Reducing fuel poverty and increasing carbon monoxide awareness among 80,000 older people in Scotland

Our project at a glance

  • Priority need group: Older people
  • Strategic priority area: Supporting priority vulnerability groups
  • Support target: 20,000 households per year
  • Duration: April 2021 to April 2024
  • Investment: £400,000 over three years
  • Forecast SROI: £8.38

You’re an absolute treasure – you’ve done nothing but give me good news. This extra money will make a difference to me being able to eat and be warm in the coming months.

Age Scotland client

Why we’re working together

Many older people face unique challenges in managing a safe and warm home. Often older people need to consume more energy to keep warm and they’re less likely to have their gas appliances routinely serviced. This puts them at greater risk of living in a cold, damp home or being exposed to carbon monoxide.

Our frontline engineers see first-hand the challenges faced by older members of our communities. These engineers told us they would value the skills to identify and engage older people, so they could provide a safe and trusted referral to expert partners.

We’ve partnered with Age Scotland to create a trusted referral path for our engineers to refer older people to the charity for support with energy-related issues, as well as developing bespoke training to help our frontline teams effectively engage with older people.

Our initial programme ambition was to support 5,000 older people each year to use energy safely, efficiently and affordably. We were delighted the charity far exceeded that target in 2021/22, enabling us to support 19,561 people by the end of the first year.

The success of this programme has continued in the years since, as our pioneering partnership has become a blueprint for how utilities can support older communities as part of a holistic approach to energy safeguarding and improving wellbeing. 

Project objectives

  • Empowering older people to engage in the energy market
  • Increasing carbon monoxide awareness among older people in Scotland
  • Training our frontline engineers on how to effectively engage with older people 

How we’re working together

Advice Helpline

We’ve enabled Age Scotland to employ qualified energy rights employees to provide specialist energy advice through their telephone helpline, as well as enabling generalist helpline advisers to provide more in-depth energy advice. By increasing household income through benefit checks and income maximisation, we’re supporting older people to stay safe and warm at home for months and years to come. 

Energy workshops

Together, we’re also providing free online and in-person energy workshops to enable older people to get a better understanding of their household energy use, and access grants and benefits to help them stay warm at home. 

Carbon monoxide awareness

Our partnership is increasing carbon monoxide awareness among this particularly at-risk demographic and we’re providing households with free accessible CO alarms, where required, installed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Employee training

We’ve worked with Age Scotland to develop and deliver a tailored training package for our Customer Experience advisers on how to identify and engage older people in need of support. We also brief our frontline engineers on the help available via Age Scotland. 

We’ve engaged regional electricity distribution networks and Scottish Water in our programme to train Age Scotland teams on whole-industry energy safeguarding, further benefiting the charity beyond our original programme scope.  

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a man and a woman sitting at a desk. The woman is filling out a form.

How to get involved 

Accessing the energy safeguarding service

Our VCMA network partners can refer older clients to Age Scotland for support through our online referral form

If you, or an older person you know, need support with energy matters, you can find more information on the Age Scotland website. Alternatively, you can speak to an expert energy adviser for free by calling the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222.

Becoming an Age Scotland partner

You can find out more about how your organisation could work in partnership to support older people in Scotland by visiting the Age Scotland website

Our workshops, the energy advice available through our helpline, and training for SGN make a real difference to older people who may be struggling, whether that be with the affordability of heating their homes or other pressing issues like loneliness and isolation.

Brian Sloan

Chief Executive, Age Scotland