Last month, we gave a behind-the-scenes intro to our energy cafes. But what does it mean to our volunteers? Here’s a first-hand account from CREW Energy Adviser, Maureen.
Sometimes I am truly humbled by the financial resilience I meet during energy cafe exchanges.
When one is unemployed for a period and managing on Universal Credit before recovering from injury and returning to work, one needs the most amazing skills to prioritise which bill to pay, which friend to tap for a loan, which life-enhancing activity to forego in order to survive, just about.
When in work, it is possible to pay the rent and council tax (a most regressive tax for tenants) with a minimum of juggling and a bit of being behind. Enter a period of unemployment and the debt mounts; paying back even £23 a week(!) of the arrears leaves so little money for the other necessities.
The most efficient and cheapest options are not available to people on very low income. Our energy cafes are a sign of solidarity with our fellows who are not as lucky and a reminder that a run of bad luck, unemployment, injury or illness can easily tip one into financial stress.
Our energy cafes offer advice on energy efficiency in the home, as well as the benefits and discounts available to more vulnerable households.