Emergency COVID Winter Fund launched for those in fuel poverty

Knowle West organisation re:work will be distributing funds in the area

A campaign launched this month to help Bristol residents in fuel poverty to be kept “warm, fed and connected” has already passed its original £10,000 target.

Bristol’s Emergency COVID Winter Fund has been started by Bristol Energy Network in partnership with Ambition Lawrence Weston – who fear this latest lockdown will make the winter tougher for those in need.

With more people losing their incomes and having to isolate at home – many are struggling to pay their fuel bills.

Communities have already come together since last March to set up hubs and distribute food.

But in the winter those on low incomes also need to be able to afford gas and electricity to keep warm – as well as to heat and store their meals.

Families also need to be able to support their children with online learning and to charge laptops and phones.

Now organisations across Bristol which have been helping with emergency food distribution are being asked to help give the funds directly to those in need.

In Knowle West social enterprise re:work on Filwood Broadway is one of the nine city organisations involved in the project – and will be making sure the money goes to those in the area finding it hard to pay their energy bills.

“…energy is a basic need”

Co-ordinator of Bristol Energy Network, Emilia Melville says: “Energy is invisible – you pay your bill and it’s not in the forefront of your mind. But energy is a basic need.  

“Some people in Bristol are using way too much energy and need to reduce their consumption. Some people are not in a position to do that, and need to use more energy to stay connected, keep warm and heat food. 

” It’s a real opportunity to connect together all those elements and bring some redistribution of wealth from people who have enough to people who don’t.”

Chief Executive at re:work, Vicky Beckwith, says staff have been helping out during lockdowns by volunteering their time to the Knowle West CV-19 Support Hub.

She explains: “Because of all the phone conversations we had, we knew that people’s lives were not going according to plan, and a lot of people were struggling financially.  

“We are part of the Bristol Energy Network. When they suggested trying to raise some money to help out, one of our trustees jumped at the chance to be involved. She knew it could make a real difference to people’s winter. 

“We were really surprised how quickly this took off, originally we were just hoping to raise £5,000 but we passed that before the launch! “

Jane Smallcombe from re:work who is involved in the project says: “This is an emergency, people in Knowle West are trapped in fuel poverty by expensive pre-paid meters.  £10 will pay for heating for one hour per day per month.”

Bristol’s Emergency COVID Winter Fund is now looking to raise a target of £30,000 to distribute across Bristol. Its Crowdfunder page states:

  • £5 runs a fridge-freezer for 4 months
  • £5 means eight hours a day on the internet with a laptop, for three months
  • £5 pays for a dehumidifier to fight damp and mould for an hour a day  during the two coldest months 
  • £10 keeps someone’s electric fire on for an hour on those cold January nights

To support the fund and make a donation visit the Crowdfunder https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/BristolEmergencyCovidWinterFund

If you are worried about money, or anything else, give the COVID-19 Support Hub – We Are Bristol a call on 0800 694 0184. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am to 2pm.

If they can’t help they will send you on to the right people including re:work – which will be distributing funds for energy when they are ready to go.