The Fuel Bank™ scheme
The scheme is currently available in selected Foodbank locations across the UK, and provides a top up voucher for approximately two weeks’ worth of fuel to clients with a prepayment meter and who have been deemed as in ‘crisis need’ by an independent Foodbank referrer.
The hope is that it will help prevent self-disconnection (where a client cannot afford to top up their meter).
Why was the npower Fuel Bank™ set up?
The number of people seeking help from Foodbanks in the UK has risen significantly in the last few years, as they face difficult decisions around where to spend limited income. We find that they’re 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 decide to ‘self-disconnect’. We believe that people shouldn’t have to make this choice, which is why the npower Fuel Bank™ was set up.
The Trussell Trust
This charity was set up to end hunger and poverty in the UK through a number of projects and initiatives across the country. The largest of these is their Foodbank network, which provides a minimum of three days’ emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. They also provide other valuable services at the Foodbanks such as Fuel Bank™, and financial advice, to help people to break the cycle of poverty.
Who can receive support from Fuel Bank™?
The npower Fuel Bank™ was designed to use the existing Foodbank referral process, so only people with a valid Foodbank Voucher for a Fuel Bank™ location are eligible. You don’t need to be an npower customer to benefit from the Fuel Bank™ scheme.
To receive support from the Fuel Bank™, you need to:
- Be a Foodbank client who has been referred by a third party such as a GP, Social Worker, Citizens Advice (and other agencies) because you are in crisis need for food. You can’t receive a fuel voucher if you don’t need food as well.
- If you then take the food voucher to your nearest Foodbank and it is part of the Fuel Bank™ scheme, and you have a prepayment meter, you may be eligible for a fuel voucher as well as a food parcel. If you are, an application would be filled in for you.
Fuel Bank™ is only available at a limited number of Foodbanks across the country. If you are in food crisis you can find your nearest Foodbank here.
Maria, 54, who lives in Birkenhead in Merseyside recently found work after being unemployed for a year. She had to cope with a very tough period financially, having to wait for her first paycheck after her Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) payments were stopped, leaving her waiting six weeks without an income.
"I was so grateful to the Foodbank for the help they gave me. The Fuel Bank™ voucher will certainly help people in a similar situation that I was in.”
"I had been unemployed for a short time, but found a new job as a caterer at Chester Zoo. Unfortunately when I told the job centre I had found a new job, they stopped my payments immediately and would not offer me any more support. I had just started my new work but had not got a pay check and had to wait six weeks to get paid.”
“I had no money at all and couldn't afford to put the gas on. If it was winter I don’t know what I would do. Eventually after asking around and getting a bit desperate I asked at the One Stop and they referred me to Wirral Foodbank. The Foodbank helped me with a food parcel, and the fuel voucher also meant I could make sure I could top up my gas and electric.”
“We’ve had mothers coming here after doing the school run, to have a bit of warmth, unable to go home because their houses are freezing. People are faced with the choice of buying food or heating their home, some are unable to do either. The Fuel Bank™ allows us to give that much more immediate help. It’s not just topping up their gas and electric, it’s giving them their dignity back: they’re able to go home and have a hot meal, have a hot shower, as well as heat their homes.”
Pat works for the Foodbank in Glossop, where we launched Fuel Bank™ in April 2016. Pat managed the ‘Bellies not Bins’ programme which refers local people in crisis into the Foodbank.
“We often get people coming to us asking if we have anything they don’t need to cook because they are experiencing fuel poverty. For a while our volunteers had been giving people the odd fiver to put on their meter, but we couldn’t sustain that. When people come to the Bellies not Bins programme (which refers people into the Foodbank) they often have a crisis happening in their lives and are finding it difficult financially. The Fuel Bank™ allows us to give people food they can cook, and extra financial support for their energy costs, meaning they have some extra cash to get out of other debt they might be experiencing.”
Clare is a mother of two young children and a regular user of the Foodbank. The support of both the Foodbank and the Fuel Bank™ have helped her to manage her energy, but also the health of her and her family.
“My partner and I live in a first floor flat with our two boys. It is important we keep our home warm because of my disability - and damp conditions within the flat mean that we have a weekly heating bill of £60, which we struggle to pay. Having the voucher has been a god-send as I’ve been able to keep healthy by heating our home, cook hot meals and keep the children warm - simple things we all do every day and often take for granted.”
As the number of people accessing support from food banks in the UK is rising, you can do your bit to help. There are a few ways you could support The Trussell Trust or other local Foodbanks in the UK:
- Make a food donation: Foodbanks hold collections at supermarkets, or you can get in touch with a local centre to see how you could help send them some much needed groceries. You could organise your own collection for a Foodbank.
- Make a cash donation: Foodbanks rely on charitable donations to provide the practical and compassionate help they do to people in poverty across the UK.
- Volunteer your time: you could help out by giving up some of your spare time to help the Foodbank in lots of ways – either by helping to sort the food they receive, supporting their supermarket collections, or in the centres themselves.
- You can read more about the work UK wide Food Poverty charity, The Trussell Trust, are doing to stop UK hunger.
Other support available
If you are in fuel crisis, or struggling with your fuel costs, it’s best to contact your energy supplier who will be able to provide the right support for you. This could be an application to a Trust or Grant scheme, emergency pre – payment support, or making sure your energy account is set up to meet your specific needs.
npower have a number of other schemes that can provide additional support, visit our meeting your needs page for more information.
npower customers should call: 0800 073 3000 or 0330 100 3000, lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 6pm. We may monitor and/or record calls for security, quality or training purposes. Calls to 0800 numbers should be free from all mobiles and generally free from all landlines. Calls to 0330 numbers will cost you no more than 01 or 02 numbers from landlines or mobiles. If you get ‘inclusive minutes’ with your package, calls to 0330 numbers will be part of these.
If you are not supplied by npower, you’ll need to call your energy supplier for support.