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First Fuel Banks to open in Coventry

The Trussell Trust and energy supplier npower are today launching the first ever Fuel Banks in Coventry.

 

Based in eight Trussell Trust foodbank centres around the city, the scheme gives eligible foodbank users with pre-payment meters vouchers for gas or electricity, so they do not have to choose between ‘heating and eating’.

 

Because the scheme gives people around two weeks’ worth of energy, the value of the voucher will fluctuate between the winter and summer months: from April to the end of October, the value will be £30 and this will increase to £49 between 1st November to 31st March.

First launched in April 2015 with the Trussell Trust and National Energy Action (NEA) the npower Fuel Bank™ was trialled in four areas (Kingston Upon Thames, Durham, Gloucester and the Wirral) and later in 2016, was rolled out more widely in eight new locations including nearby in Birmingham and the Black Country.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, Coventry Foodbank distributed over 15,400 three-day emergency food supplies to local people in crisis, around 6000 of which were given to children under the age of 16.

Tracey, a client of the Coventry Foodbank and fuel voucher recipient, said “This makes all the difference to me and my family, it means that I don’t have to find that extra money to put into the gas meter.”

Hugh McNeil, Manager of the Coventry Foodbank, said: “We are very excited about the launch of Fuel Bank in Coventry. Each month we meet clients who face the dilemma between heat or eating, and the Fuel Bank will undoubtedly make a difference to some of the most deprived families in our city”.

 

Guy Esnouf, npower’s Director of Corporate Responsibility said, “Our first step was to trial the Fuel Bank in four areas in 2015. This proved the concept works - getting the right support to the people who need it most. Having seen the real difference the scheme makes in many more parts of the UK over the course of last year, we were keen to expand our support across the Midlands.  By providing the service in Coventry, we are adding to our existing Fuel Banks in Kings Heath, Smethwick, North Solihull and East Birmingham - meaning we can reach thousands more people in crisis.”


Notes to Editors

How the npower Fuel Bank works:

 

The Fuel Bank™ has been designed to utilise the existing foodbank referral process, and then provide clients with fuel support as quickly as possible.

Step 1

Individuals who are identified as being in need of emergency food by care professionals, such as Citizens Advice, GPs, social workers or police, are issued with a foodbank voucher to redeem at their local foodbank.

Step 2

When the individual goes to the foodbank with their food voucher, if their household has a prepayment meter (PPM) for electricity and/or gas, they may be eligible to apply for a top-up voucher. There is a limit on the number of vouchers a client will be issued, and this is checked by an independent third party prior to the voucher being issued.

Step 3

npower will provide a Fuel Bank™ voucher to the client via text message or email or if the client doesn’t have a phone or email account the voucher will be emailed to the foodbank within 24 business hours of the application being submitted (vouchers are not issued on weekends or bank holidays). If required the foodbank will then contact the individual via an agreed means to share the voucher.

Step 4

The client then takes this code to any shop with a PayPoint machine where it can be redeemed against electricity and/or gas using their pre-payment key or card at no cost to the customer. The npower Fuel Banks™ code can only be used for electricity and gas.

Step 5

Once the code has been redeemed, when the individual puts the relevant pre-payment key or card in their meter or meters the money will appear as a credit.