Warm and Safe Homes for West Belfast
24 January 2019
Clanmil Housing Association held a Heat Your Home for Less information event this week as part of National Energy Action's Warm and Safe Homes campaign.
People living in the area around Caffrey Hill and in Clanmil homes across West Belfast came along to Hub West on Wednesday to find out how they can keep their homes warm and save on their energy bills.
Alex Maskey MLA, Tony Giffen Clanmil Group Director of Assets, Clare Mc Carty Clanmil Group Chief Executive and Bernadine Mc Cabe Clanmil Energy & Environmental Officer
Northern Ireland has the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK and one of the highest in the European Union, with current estimates indicating that 42% of households are affected. A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a safe and healthy level of heating, it needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its household income on fuel.
People attended the Heat Your Home for Less event where they were able to access information on energy efficiency, budgeting, switching energy suppliers and health conditions linked to cold homes. A team of experts were on hand throughout the morning with practical advice and give-aways, including Clanmil's Money Advisors, NEA NI, Bryson Energy, NI Consumer Council and Belfast City Council, Engineers from Clanmil's home heating contractor, CTS Ltd, provided helpful heating control demonstrations to help people get the most from their heating system.
The event was supported by a grant from Calor.
Bernadine McCabe has recently joined the Clanmil Team as Energy and Environmental Officer and will lead out a new Energy Strategy for the organisation. Bernadine said:
"Fuel poverty is a very real issue for many people living on low incomes and at Clanmil we want to do all that we can to make sure people can live comfortably and safely in their homes.
"This event is about making sure that people who are struggling to heat their homes know that there is support available and how to access it. We are really grateful to our partners who came along today with good advice and really practical money saving tips to help people avoid cold homes this winter and the misery and ill health they create."
Pat Austin, Director of NEA said "We are delighted that Clanmil are carrying out this initiative and congratulate them on their successful Warm and Safe Homes award. The cold kills and the most recent excess winter deaths in Northern Ireland indicated a significant increase to 1,500 deaths. A third of these deaths are directly attributable to living in cold damp homes. It is therefore vital that events like this raise awareness of the importance of keeping warm and keeping safe."
Alex Maskey, MLA, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Welfare and Anti-Poverty, said
"The scourge of fuel poverty continues to affect all levels of society, particularly the old, infirm and very young. Various reasons have been given as to the high level of fuel poverty. For example, we have a cold climate leading to a greater heating requirement, a more dispersed population, a larger proportion of the population living in the rural areas, and higher gas and electricity costs because we have no indigenous fuels. The reality of all of this is that fuel poverty can damage people's quality of life and health.
"The likelihood of ill-health is increased by cold homes. Illnesses such as influenza, heart disease and strokes are exacerbated by the cold. Energy companies need to play a significant role in alleviating fuel poverty by looking after their vulnerable customers. Innovative measures are needed if we are, as a supposedly civilised society, going to fight the continuing scourge that is fuel poverty. So, I would like to commend Clanmill for the work in this field and I look forward to a proactively working with them to help elevate the scourge that is Fuel Poverty."