Energy Know How

By Sharon Smith, Community Energy Advisor

I met with a client at a drop-in session for one to one advice after having delivered a presentation around priority services register and the warm home discount.

The client was paying £60.00 per month for water which includes ongoing charges and arrears which the client is struggling with and is starting to impact on his ability to keep up with his other energy bills.

We discussed water meters and the client wanted to go ahead and trial one as well as register for priority services on his water – he is already registered for priority services on his gas and electricity.

We called Yorkshire Water and spoke to Jaya, who confirmed client is not on a meter and has annual charges £378.58 with a balance outstanding which currently stands at £988.33.

I explained that the client is struggling financially and was transferred to collections where we spoke to Carly. Carly agreed to reduce ongoing payments to £48.00 which the client pays every 4 weeks, saving him £156.00 per year. We also requested a water meter for the client and it was agreed for an engineer to visit and hopefully fit one in Mid October. It was estimated that this will reduce his bill to £216.00 per year saving a further £162.00 per year after installation. I also registered the client with the Priority Services Register for constant supply and meter readings.

During the conversation the client also mentioned he has other debts and would like a referral to Making Your Money Go Further and then onto Citizens Advice to discuss debt options.

Energy Know How

By Noor Salih, Community Energy Advisor

September has been a busy month for us – from providing advice on the current energy market to ensuring that we hand out our winter warmer packs to our most vulnerable clients across Rotherham. One of our clients is from an active community group, who has had an ongoing complaint with their energy provider about a refund amount and the incorrect information on the bill.

At the community group drop-in session we discussed the complaint process, who OFGEM are and what their rights are as a consumer when making a formal complaint. Our client explained that they have an ongoing complaint within the complaints department over a bill dispute, I showed them how to calculate their bill and went over bank statements to ensure they had received their refund. The refund was received but the bill was showing that our client had also been charged for the refund.

I explained what a ‘customer service failure’ is in the eyes of the Ombudsman and how to speak to their complaint case handler. Our client is now more confident on how to understand their bill, what they are entitled to as a consumer with an ongoing complaint. They received a correct amended bill and got a healthy amount of gesture of goodwill.

SEND Youth Club Summer Fare

By Sam Dixon, Community Organiser

The SEND youth group wanted to celebrate their reopening after the restrictions due to COVID-19 and expanding to start another youth group in Brinsworth.

The group planned for a small summer fayre to be held within the grounds of the JADE Centre. The centre is where the group first came together and has continued to support Jo and the team. A small amount of activities were put on designed to entertain everyone. These included a small bouncy castle, a tombola with an array of prizes, cookies and cakes were being sold, as well as other items.
I offered my support to the Fayre in whatever guise the team required. I ended up with task of selling the raffle tickets.
The Event was attended by around 50 different people connected to the group, the local community and even the MP for Rother Valley, Alex Stafford.
The group raised £203 and raised the profile of their group in the local community.
Alex Stafford said; ‘It was great to meet everyone at the event, filled with fun activities for everyone to get involved with.’

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Energy Know How

By Noor Salih & Sharon Smith, Community Energy Advisors

I contacted an elderly lady who had spoken to our Making your Money Go Further Project as she was having some issues with her Utility provider.

The client had spoken with a different support provider at the beginning of the year as she believed her bills were expensive compared to her neighbours. She received some support however this was not followed-up as the project ended and her case was not passed onto another advisor, an issue that she found very annoying.

The client has had a smart meter installed that has not worked for over 2 years. She has two meter boxes outside her property and she believes there is another inside but does not know what it is for.

She has recently received a warm home discount payment after applying last year despite probably being eligible for some time and not knowing about the scheme.

She was promised by her energy provider that someone would come to her property in June to read her meters however this never happened. She has difficulty accessing the meters as this requires her to lie on the floor to see one of them. She is not happy with the support and service from her current provider and wants help to switch.

Her current payments are £86.00 per month but as the meters have not been read and the bills have not, as yet been seen, I could not confirm whether this was sufficient to cover usage or whether the bills were accurate. She is going to locate her latest bills and will ask her daughter to take meter readings. On receipt of this information we will arrange to meet face to face to discuss what steps to take next without putting her warm home discount at risk.

Swinburne Social Club BBQ

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

On Saturday 28th August Swinburne Social club held their BBQ fundraiser, this was supported by both the HRA and Lottery RotherFed staff teams in both the planning and delivery, this event was first thought of a year ago during the first lockdown as a way of bringing community spirit back to Swinburne place and increasing the group’s membership. Due to restrictions we never managed to hold the event, the group felt that now restrictions had lifted this was a perfect time to hold it, the group held a raffle as well as serving food.

The event was a huge success being attended by 23 people and raising the group £78 which will be used towards the first daytrip that the group will arrange. Winston treated attendees to some homemade South African dishes including sausages and spiced chicken. After the event the group decided it was such a success that they plan to make this an annual event.

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Friends of Rosehill Park

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

A few weeks ago, Rotherfed received an email from Friends of Rosehill Park saying they thought it was the right time to close the group. Rachel followed up with Nikki Slasor who runs the group and they have decided to keep the group running and asked for help with a community event in the park. The local elected members, Cllr Jill Thompson and Cllr Bob Bird had been to see Nikki and had agreed to fund some activities for the children at the event, making it a free event. The main purpose of the event was to try and find out what people would like to see happen in the park i.e., regular activities and what changes they would like to see.

The event took place on Sunday 22 August at Rosehill Park from 11.30am until 3.30pm and I went along and supported this event. Using their budget, the Councillors paid for a penalty shoot-out, sand art, miniature train ride, crazy golf and an ice cream for every child. The group also did a tombola, a wine and water stall and a raffle. Rotherfed purchased the water and the bottle bags for the wine and water stall. There was also an Olympic Trail around the park organised by Yorkshire Sport and the Rawmarsh Runners.

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A Reason to Like Mondays Summer Social Event

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

Early this month were able to support the A Reason to Like Mondays group to host a Summer Social Event in Clifton Park. The event was being hosted in the summer holidays when the group would not usually be active as children aren’t in school. We had a great turn out of 11 parents and carers and 15 children who had attended on the day.

It was a lovely sunny day in Clifton Park the children were all playing with all the field sports equipment so much so that Claire W had said “we didn’t plan on staying this long but the kids are having fun” and it was the same for other parents too.

The children had not seen some of their friends for a while because of COVID 19 and the event gave them an opportunity to play games, eat some food and speak with their friends. For some of the children this was their first time being back out at an event and it did take them some time to adjust but eventually they joined in with the others.

Claire D said “It’s nice to meet up with the group again to see everyone and to see the kids getting along”. The group are looking into hosting more social events to help promote membership and be bring the group together for outdoor events in future.

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Green Doctors

By Noor Salih & Sharon Smith, Community Energy Advisors

Our Energy Know How team have been working on building partnerships and groups to ensure we can do our best to help the residents of Rotherham become more Energy Efficient. Our main focus coming up to Christmas is to ensure that our most vulnerable are aware on ways to heat their homes warm for less. Green Doctor (Ground Work) are an organisation who have kindly donated 100 ‘winter warmer pack’, which contains blankets, hot water bottles and other things to wrap up and keep warm for the upcoming winter months. This is crucial to our clients as many will sit in cold homes worried about their heating cost, which will an impact on their mental and physically health.

This means that by getting these individuals together to discuss how to claim their Warm Home Discount, we can also give them a pack each to use for those colder days. It is still early days but we are in the process of being in a position to refer Green Doctor to visit to these residents to their homes to draught proof their properties and improve the energy efficiency overall. They will also be able to support those clients on how to switch and set up their thermostats to be timed for when they wish for their heating or hot water to enable or disable, having an everlasting positive impact on our client’s daily lives.

Social Supermarket

By Karen Jay & Claire Stinson, Community Support Workers

A lady at Social Supermarket wasn’t sure if we could help, but still felt comfortable to come and ask anyway, especially as she had heard about all the ways we had helped others. She wanted to find out what support was available to get her husband out and more independent following his stroke. I gave her the number for adult social care at RMBC. The following week she told me that he had been allocated a volunteer, and he was taking her husband out that day. Her husband had asked to go to the bank, the shop and for a walk. This means he can now manage his own money again, do the food shopping and gives him back his independence. Leading on from that, he is getting an occupational health assessment to look at what aids and any adaptations they can provide them with and also a physio appointment.

Leverton Way TARA

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

The Centres reopened on Monday 19 July and the following week I popped to see Peter at the Dorothy Taylor Centre on Leverton Way, Dalton.  It was lovely to meet Peter and the other members of the group.  I have been speaking to Peter on a regular basis for the past 8 months so it was lovely to put a face to his name. The group currently has 6 very active members, however, they are hoping the numbers will grow now that restrictions are being lifted. Peter has been doing a fish and chip run every Friday for the local residents, this will continue but the residents will now enjoy them in the Centre. The group meet every Tuesday and Friday and do various activities. From my budget I purchased a slow cooker for this group as theirs has recently failed its PAT test. They were so grateful as it will enable them to do their monthly cooking sessions. I look forward to working with Leverton Way Tara and all the other groups in my area.