Energy Know How – Karen

This client was referred to Energy Know How by Social Prescribing as requiring urgent support. The client was heating their house with candles, had no income for heating other than Universal Credit and having to choose between utility bills and food.

Contact was made straight away although the client did not answer, a voicemail message was left saying who we were and who had asked us to call. We also said we would call again if she was not able to return our call for any reason.

Client called back shortly after the message was left and was offered a call-back just in case she was on a pay as you go phone however the client confirmed she had available minutes in her mobile contract.

Karen lives in a rented council flat with 2 bedrooms. She started to become ill towards the end of last year and was off sick from her job as an ambulance driver (non NHS employment/through another company) and had to claim Universal Credit. She has required food parcels to help her manage and by not having a gluten free/well controlled diet her health had deteriorated further to the point she collapsed and had to go to hospital.

She has had numerous tests and hopefully some results will come soon. She had received only £500 from universal credit and £300 of this was needed to pay her rent. She is also having a deduction for an advance which I informed her she can request is temporarily suspended and explained how this can be done.

She had had emergency top up vouchers via citizens advice and was expecting another however it had not come through. I offered to chase this for her, her first vouchers were issued over a month ago, she had no electric and was using emergency credit for gas – she was heating her home with tea lights.

We also discussed the possibility of her applying for help from the ambulance workers charity (TASC) – I gave her the contact details from internet, she had nothing to lose by asking for temporary help with her situation. She had applied for PIP – explained the importance of the assessment and offered a referral to Citizens Advice via our Money project however client declined this as she struggles to engage with lots of different people.

She is temporarily in receipt of dhp to cover the bedroom tax. She was worried about hospital appointments and has been asked to enquire re refund of travel costs to hospital as she is in receipt of u/c she should be able to reclaim these (or mileage).

Energy saving issues were discussed and Karen already does most things, she has installed led lightbulbs and radiator foils, she had a particular issue with her front door which is very draughty and leaks in water making her entrance wet and this in turn makes it harder to keep warm. She lives in an upstairs flat and has issues with the tenants below, sometimes the windows are broken so this impacts on draughts in her upstairs flat.

Karen was offered a visit from Green Doctors to see if there are any measures they could install around her door and whether they could check to see if the radiator foils have been installed correctly. She mentioned fans that had been installed for her heating so I was not sure if this is a heat pump style system – if it is I explained the green doctors would be able to give advice about using it correctly as she says it is completely in-effective.

I chased the Top up vouchers with Citizens Advice immediately and received an email confirming the client would be contacted in the next 24 hours to issue her second of the three allocated top up vouchers to enable her to reconnect her electricity and have some hot water.

A Green Doctor visit was also requested.

The client sent a thank you text the day after saying she had spoken with the ambulance charity and was being sent an application form to request support and that she had chased up outstanding issues with DWP to get her health assessments completed.