THE FIRST ‘fuel bank’ in Coventry is being launched by a national energy supplier and local charity.
The scheme will be based in eight Trussell Trust foodbank centres around the city and will give eligible foodbank users, with pre-payment meters, vouchers for gas or electricity.
The organisers say it will help remove the ‘unwanted dilemma’ between ‘heating or eating’ for hard-up individuals and families.
The initial npower fuel banks – launched in April 2015 – were trialled in four areas: Kingston Upon Thames, Durham, Gloucester and the Wirral.
By last year, the scheme had expanded across eight new locations, including near to Birmingham and the Black Country.
Between April last year and March this year, Coventry Foodbank distributed over 15,400 three-day emergency food supplies to local people in crisis. Around 40 per cent of supplies were given to children under the age of 16.
The vouchers will cover around two weeks’ worth of energy, meaning the value of the voucher will fluctuate between the winter and summer months.
From April to the end of October, the value will be £30 and this will increase to £49 between November 1 and March 31.
Tracey, a client of the Coventry Foodbank and fuel voucher recipient, said: “This makes all the difference to me and my family, it means that I don’t have to find that extra money to put into the gas meter.”
Hugh McNeil, manager of the Coventry Foodbank, said: “We are very excited about the launch of the fuel bank in Coventry.
“Each month we meet clients who face the dilemma between heat or eating, and the fuel bank will undoubtedly make a difference to some of the most deprived families in our city.”
Guy Esnouf, npower’s director of Corporate Responsibility said: “Our first step was to trial the Fuel Bank in four areas in 2015. This proved the concept works – getting the right support to the people who need it most.
“Having seen the real difference the scheme makes in many more parts of the UK over the course of last year, we were keen to expand our support across the Midlands.
“By providing the service in Coventry, we are adding to our existing fuel banks in Kings Heath, Smethwick, North Solihull and East Birmingham – meaning we can reach thousands more people in crisis.”