NEA Community Footprint Award

Runcorn social landlord Riverside has stepped up to the challenge winning an award for their project helping local residents keep warm in their homes.

The project is working to stamp out fuel poverty and offer appropriate intervention around affordable warmth to residents of the Halton Brook estate. Riverside is supporting the recruitment and training of volunteers and running events to raise awareness of how cold, damp homes can directly impact health and wellbeing.

Riverside’s “Halton Saving Home Energy Challenge” is one of the regional winners of the Community Footprint award, a national award scheme run by the fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, in association with the Department for Energy and Climate Change and British Gas.

The project works with people from the whole community, right through the generations. It’s about turning the energy saving potential for each household into something real and sustainable. The difference it makes for each household can then be quantified and shared amongst peers and beyond within the public health sector, fuel poverty sector and carbon cutting sector.

Riverside is providing advice to vulnerable people in the area to help eradicate fuel poverty. Energy champion volunteers, recruited from the estate, are also providing advice to reach more people. The energy champion volunteers will create a long term legacy in the local community as a valuable source of advice in the future.

The Community Footprint Award is an award scheme that rewards projects throughout England which demonstrate best practice in the field of fuel poverty and carbon savings and is open to all not-for-profit groups and organisations.

To celebrate the project’s successful entry into the Community Footprint Award scheme, a local event was held on Friday February 1 at the Halton Brook Community Centre in Runcorn with attendees from NEA, British Gas and the winning project team, as well as volunteers and stakeholders. The project will now go on to compete against the eight other winning initiatives from around the country for the national award of £3,000 in addition to the £2,000 already awarded.

Michelle Melvin, Riverside’s affordable warmth officer, said: “Our Saving Home Energy Challenge has really sparked the interest of the whole community and got everyone buzzing. The project is about empowering people to save money and energy, which can make a real difference to households who face the reality of deciding whether to eat, or heat their homes. It’s very rewarding to see people improve their quality of life through tailored advice and Home Energy Checks. Lots of people are now making positive changes to save energy and money, and improve their health and wellbeing.”

Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at NEA said: “Fuel Poverty is a serious problem, affecting more than 125,000 households in Merseyside alone*. The Halton Saving Home Energy Challenge project is a great example of how local networks can be utilised to reach the most vulnerable and provide them with the help they need to keep well and warm in their homes. I congratulate Riverside and their project partners for creating a successful communications channel to reach the vulnerable residents and provide that all important advice and support.”

Amanda Nolan, Corporate Responsibility Communities Manager at British Gas said: “We feel honoured to be supporting the Halton Saving Home Energy Challenge project in raising awareness of health and wellbeing impacts from cold and damp homes. By utilising Riverside Housing’s wide network and the project’s Energy Champions, they will be able to engage the whole community of the Halton Brook estate. I would like to congratulate Riverside Housing Group and I wish them every success in their project”.

* DECC Sub-regional fuel poverty data 2010
** Photo: Howard Garde, Riverside Project Manager
Charles Simkiss, Riverside Assistant Director Property Services
John Stockton, Cllr John Stockton (Halton Borough Council)
Phillip Warren, Managing Director, Warmer Energy Services
Michael McGowan, Riverside Project Manager
Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs, NEA
Michelle Melvin, Riverside Affordable Warmth Officer
Carol Matthews, Riverside Group Chief Executive

Written by: Nina Dunlavy, Communications Officer at NEA

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