By Sharon Smith, Community Energy Advisor
Led by Founder Jude Kelly, WOW Festivals are the world’s most comprehensive festivals celebrating women, girls and non-binary people. Launched in 2010, WOW Festivals have now taken place in more than 30 locations in six continents, reaching more than three million people to date. WOW Rotherham was on the 16th and the 17th of July. The two-day festival was to celebrate community, culture, and entrepreneurialism with artists local, national, and international taking part in the event, the first of its kind for the town.
One of the panels that takes place at every WOW festival is ‘Urgent Conversation’. WOW Global describe this as ‘Every day, it feels like we wake up to something new to respond to, a new urgent conversation to have, a new set of injustices to carry and solutions to come up with together. With the news agenda and world events changing at such rapid speed, WOW has reserved this panel to respond to the most up to date and recent happenings that affect us, gender equality and societies around the world.’
WOW Rotherham’s Urgent Conversation was around the cost-of-living crisis. Chaired by Jude Kelly the panel included myself, Noor Salih from Energy Know How Rotherfed, Becca Stacey who is the Senior Research Officer for Money and Mental Health Policy institute and GP Hannah Barham-Brown. The panel discussed about how where you live can impact your mental health and how GPs do not have enough time to really get to know the issues that the patients have and the importance of social prescribing. The discussion was also around the energy market crisis.
There was a real buzz from the audience during Q&As, they had no knowledge of Priority Service Register or Warm Home Discount. 95% of the audience said they didn’t understand what was happening in relation to the price rises and what cost of living payments they were entitled to.
The audience was taken aback by the cost of running a prepayment meter and the importance of having a conversation with your energy provider about moving onto a tariff instead of moving energy providers. One of the audience members talked about their daughter becoming a mother and moving into her first rental property with a prepayment meter. The daughter wasn’t aware she could have it changed to a standard meter to save some money.
The audience was mostly women with just 2 men in the audience, the entire audience were parents and were not familiar about how much money they could save by making small behaviour changes in their household. More than half of the audience weren’t aware of how to access their meters to read them to ensure accurate billing.
By the end of the panel the participants were aware of:
- Priority service register
- Warm Home Discount
- How to access and read their meters
- Cost of living payments and eligibility
- Simple energy saving tips
- Services offered by Social Prescribers
- What is happening in the energy market