Date: 26 Nov 2020
Tomorrow, Friday 27 November marks #FuelPovertyAwarenessDay and Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Frank McCoubrey has joined charity National Energy Action (NEA) to support their work in combating and highlighting the effects of fuel poverty.
NEA, the national fuel poverty charity, work to ensure everyone is safe and warm in their own home. Their new Warm and Safe homes campaign launches this #FuelPovertyAwarenessDay aimed at identifying the most vulnerable in society and targets help and support services to help people deal with the impact of fuel poverty.
This year, NEA have reported a substantial increase in fuel poverty due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 crisis. This is due to a number of contributing factors such as:
- An increase in energy use, due to more people spending more time at home
- A reduction in income, as many jobs were either lost or placed on furlough
- Increased affordability issues and therefore debt, leading to energy rationing
- Reductions in smart meter and energy efficiency installations
- Difficulties in accessing support, especially where households were digitally excluded or spoke English as an additional language
Belfast’s first citizen believes no one should endure the burden of fuel poverty in isolation and is backing NEA to tackle fuel poverty with their latest campaign.
Calling on people to reach out for help, Alderman McCoubrey said: “More people than ever before face the reality of fuel poverty as the winter months set in. The impact of fuel poverty has been compounded this year by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
“Individuals and families across the city are struggling to keep up with their day-to-day living costs. Not only can this have a negative and detrimental impact on their physical health but also many will struggle with their mental health and wellbeing by carrying the weight of such a burden on their shoulders.
“Their troubles cannot go unheard and I encourage those who are suffering in silence to speak out and seek help. Charities such as NEA carry out fantastic work in helping people face down difficult times, offering help and assistance to get them back on the right track. Campaigns such as Warm and Safe Homes as well as the Warm and Well Campaign are vital tools to help reduce the level of fuel poverty in Belfast and beyond.”
He added: “The right help and support services are out there and ready to step into action. People need to be comfortable in seeking help and taking the first steps towards a better future.”
Northern Ireland Director of NEA, Pat Austin is confident that it will make a positive difference to those struggling at this time. She said:
‘‘Thousands of people will be dreading the cold weather, and have no idea of the support that may be available to them; and while we are urging the Government to do more we also want to highlight the help that is available from a range of organisations including NEA’s Warm and Well scheme which is supported by the Belfast City Council. By working together we can get help to those who need it most and ensure more people can live in a warm and safe home this winter’’.
Details on the Warm and Safe Homes campaign can be found on the NEA website https://www.nea.org.uk/member-of-the-public/ (link opens in new window).
For more information on organisations and services that can help tackle issues of fuel poverty visit https://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/poverty.