For over three years, Northern Gas Networks, in partnership with Community Action Northumberland (CAN), has funded a programme called Warm Hubs – friendly, warm places where customers in vulnerable circumstances can go to get warm, have a meal, and obtain advice.
The Warm Hubs initiative is a pioneering community project in partnership with Community Action Northumberland. It aims to help residents facing the misery of fuel poverty, isolation, and loneliness. The hubs are warm and friendly places staffed by volunteers, where customers living in vulnerable situations can receive support and advice. To date, 26 Warm Hubs have been established, helping over 8,000 local residents over the cold, winter months.
A helping hand
Vulnerable customers can visit the Warm Hubs to socialise, get warm, have a hot meal, and access information, advice, and referrals to relevant support. Attendees have also saved approximately GBP 189 on their annual energy bill from the support provided in the Hubs – such as energy monitors, low energy light bulbs, switching tariffs, and other energy-saving advice.
Slow cookers, fast savings
Building on the success of their Warm Hubs, Northern Gas Networks has tested various spin-off projects that can provide further help in vulnerable communities. The organisation has worked closely with Community Action Northumberland (CAN) to launch ‘pop up’ hubs – one-off community events in areas where there is a lack of existing services or a fixed facility to host a regular event. The first pop-ups highlighted the benefits of slow cookers as a low-cost, easy way of cooking a hot and tasty meal. At the end of the sessions, everyone was given a slow cooker with an accompanying recipe book to take away.
Northern Gas Networks’ Warm Hubs has been included in a new book published by the Prince’s Trust. The Trust chose Warm Hubs as one of 40 case studies from the UK to include in the ‘Village Survival Guide, How to build a strong community’.
This story shows how Northern Gas Networks supports Goal 1: No Poverty, specifically Target 1.4: “By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular, the poor and vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.”
About Northern Gas Networks
Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is the North of England’s gas distributor. Its job is to look after the pipes and associated equipment that keeps 2.7 million homes and businesses cooking on gas. NGN’s network spans the North East, northern Cumbria, and much of Yorkshire. The company also provides the region’s emergency gas response service.