Citizens Advice West Northants & Cherwell
Keeping communities safe and warm in West Northamptonshire and North Oxfordshire
Our project at a glance
- Strategic priority area: Targeting geographic communities most at risk of fuel poverty
- Support target: 1,075 households per year
- Duration: February 2023 to January 2025
- Investment: £202,800 over two years
- Forecast SROI: £6.82
My adviser was very, very supportive in that she listened and understood my situation – the only person to do so. I no longer felt overwhelmed and on my own – just the fact she was genuinely interested and not just ticking boxes made an enormous difference to me personally. In fact I had a little cry afterwards.
Citizens Advice West Northants & Cherwell client
Why we’re working together
In July 2022, Cherwell District Council in North Oxfordshire declared a fuel poverty emergency, citing that many residents in Cherwell were facing the terrible choice of heating or eating. A dire situation for many, which would only worsen as winter approached.
Against this backdrop, we recognised that residents in Cherwell and West Northamptonshire were at increased risk of fuel poverty.
Our Energy Matters project seeks to engage a wide range of community groups to proactively identify households in fuel poverty and provide advice and support to reduce energy costs and increase household incomes.
- Delivering a community energy advice service for vulnerable households through community partners
- Supporting households in energy crisis with access to case workers who can provide tangible help
- Improving the wellbeing of households who are disadvantaged due to digital exclusion, ethnicity, ill health or old age
How we’re working together
Energy information and advice service
Through Citizens Advice’s network of community partners in North Oxfordshire and West Northamptonshire, we’re delivering an energy advice service to help households reduce energy costs and increase household income. The service educates residents on carbon monoxide safety and provides CO alarms for those who need one.
Residents in crisis can also meet with Citizens Advice caseworkers for more in-depth one-on-one advice around energy debt and complex housing and safeguarding issues.
Supporting households in energy crisis
When a Citizens Advice adviser or community partner identifies a household in food or energy crisis, we’re able to provide immediate access to emergency funding to cover food or energy costs. We’ve partnered with Trussell Trust to provide food vouchers, while we provide fuel vouchers.
Engaging community networks
One of the main barriers to accessing support is people’s hesitation to seek help early, due to embarrassment or social stigma. Issues are often ignored until they reach crisis point. We’re training and supporting community leaders to identify and proactively help households in fuel poverty and those who are eligible for the Priority Services Register.
By engaging community organisations that work with diverse and disadvantaged populations, we’re able to ensure our help reaches those who need it most. We’re also able to reach households who wouldn’t typically turn to more mainstream sources of help, instead preferring to seek support from trusted leaders or organisations within their community.
How to get involved
Accessing the Energy Matters project
If you live in North Oxfordshire or West Northamptonshire and are struggling with your energy bills or other energy matters, you can get free and independent help by calling Citizens Advice on 0300 004 0401, visiting the new online virtual hub or emailing email@example.com.
Becoming an Energy Matters partner
To join the network of Citizens Advice community partners in North Oxfordshire and West Northamptonshire, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The outreach service which Citizens Advice provides at The Sunshine Centre to our local community is so important during this time of financial poverty. Energy Matters supports all sectors of the community and helps them through another challenging winter.