0800-233-5255 GreenDoctorSouth@groundwork.org.uk

Fuel poverty and it’s impact on mental health

Ms. S, a resilient 58-year-old woman, lives alone in a Local Authority housing unit in London. Despite her health issues, she works remotely part-time and relies on disability benefits to make ends meet. Her life took a challenging turn when the burden of high energy bills became overwhelming.

The Call for Help

On March 28, 2024, Ms. S reached out to the Green Doctors, a team of expert energy advisors dedicated to helping individuals like her save energy and reduce their financial stress. The Green Doctors provide free, personalised consultations, assisting residents with energy-saving advice, applying for discounts, and connecting them with support organisations.

Immediate Assistance and Transforming Support

Understanding the urgency of Ms. S’s situation, the Green Doctors sprang into action. They provided her with a £60 Fuel Voucher and secured an additional £150 from EDF funding through SHINE to help with her energy bill. But their support didn’t stop there. They also facilitated a Thames Water discount, cutting her monthly water payments from £48.53 to £24.26 for the year 2024/2025. Furthermore, Ms. S received essential home energy-saving devices, including an air fryer, slow cooker, heated blanket, and radiator.

A New Beginning

With these significant aids, Ms. S found herself with substantial savings and relief from her financial burden. Her newfound financial stability and access to energy-saving advice marked a turning point, enhancing her quality of life and enabling her to manage essential utilities better.

The Broader Picture of Fuel Poverty

Ms. S’s story is just one among many. Fuel poverty is a harsh reality for approximately 3.17 million households in the UK*. This situation imposes severe stress and constraints, adversely impacting the mental and physical health of those affected. High fuel costs force families to compromise on essential needs such as transportation, social activities, home repairs, and nutritious food, perpetuating a vicious cycle of energy debt and deprivation.

Children growing up in cold, damp housing conditions face long-term health implications, including epigenetic changes that affect their DNA. Poor indoor air quality, mold, and disrupted sleep further exacerbate these health issues. The lack of digital access also limits their ability to seek necessary help.

Green Doctors’ Response

Serving 16 boroughs across London (and here in the South), for 18 years, Green Doctors have been tirelessly working to improve the quality of life for residents like Ms. S.

Fuel poverty continues to rise, and more support is needed to combat this crisis. Financial concerns are affecting mental well-being, and basic living essentials like food and warmth are becoming increasingly unaffordable for many.

Understanding and recognising the signs of fuel poverty is crucial. By getting involved, you can make a difference in the lives of those struggling to keep their homes warm and their families healthy. Together, we can provide the support needed to break the cycle of fuel poverty and improve the lives of those struggling to become more energy efficient.

Interested in learning how you can tackle your energy bill this summer? Here is the downloadable summer advice put together by our team of energy experts.

*Source – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/annual-fuel-poverty-statistics-report-2024

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