Many people who are in need of emergency food are often also in fuel crisis and have to make the choice between ‘heating or eating’, which can lead to a series of health issues if they have to ‘self-disconnect’ (where they can’t afford to top up their pre-payment meter).
We believe that people shouldn’t have to make this choice. Foodbanks provide a unique opportunity to reach people in fuel crisis, in some cases before they reach that point, and offer them a helping hand. Fuel vouchers give up to two weeks of breathing space to seek longer term help with their fuel bills.
“Across The Trussell Trust foodbank network, we are seeing a real need all-year round for help with energy as well as food. In winter, foodbank clients come to us having to choose between going hungry or heating their homes, and in summer, we find some people come to us saying they can’t afford to heat the food parcels we give them. It’s heart-breaking when people in desperate situations try to give back food like pasta and soup simply because they can’t afford to cook it. Combining the distribution of food parcels with npower Fuel Bank vouchers will ensure that many thousands of people at foodbanks get the help they need to feed themselves and stay warm. We are very grateful to npower for working with us on this ground breaking project, we know it will have a positive impact on people facing crisis in the UK today.”
David McAuley – CEO of the Trussell Trust
The project started in April 2015 in partnership with npower, National Energy Action and Durham Christian Partnership. It was piloted in four foodbanks and was a big success, giving out 7000 vouchers and helping over 16,000 people in one year. Since the pilot, Fuel Bank has expanded and is now running in 30 foodbanks across the UK and has helped over 82,000 people.
How does it work?
Step 1 – Individuals who are identified as being in need of emergency food by care professionals are issued with a foodbank voucher to redeem at their local foodbank.
Step 2 – When the individual goes to the foodbank with their voucher, the volunteers will chat to them about their energy needs. If the client has a pre-payment meter and is struggling to keep it topped up, the foodbank may offer to apply for a voucher on their behalf.
Step 3 – If the application is successful, a Fuel Bank voucher will be sent to the client via text message or another method if they do not have a mobile phone.
Step 4 – The client then takes their voucher to any shop with a PayPoint machine where it can be redeemed against electricity and/or gas using their pre-payment key or card.
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.
Please note, Fuel Bank is only available at a limited number of foodbanks and is only for foodbank clients. Clients cannot be referred into the scheme.