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Severn Wye Energy Agency helps fight fuel poverty in Wiltshire

Achieve is a ground-breaking project run by Severn Wye Energy Agency aimed at lifting people out of unemployment and helping households cut their energy bills at the same time.

Run in partnership with Wiltshire Council, Achieve provides free home energy assessments, advice and installation of simple energy saving devices to residents living in and around the Trowbridge and Melksham areas of Wiltshire.

It does so by helping the long-term unemployed and students seeking work experience, and training them as home energy advisors.

Initially, two advisors - Gary Hardman and Jason Laws - were taken on and trained, after being selected through Job Centre Plus Trowbridge.

The pair completed a training course at Wiltshire College and subsubsequently began carrying out visits to local householders, giving practical advice on how to make savings on energy bills, as well as helping people to understand more about how their energy costs are broken down.

While Jason has since moved on, Gary is still with the project almost a year later.

Gary, who himself is from Melksham, explained: "I found the training really informative and I gained a lot of knowledge. I had never thought of working in this area, but I'm finding it really exciting and I have already found loads of ways to save in my own home. I get a lot of job satisfaction from being able to help people in such a practical way."

The criteria for those people in Trowbridge and Melskham who are able to receive free home visits were those:

  • who receive income or disability related benefits
  • who have someone aged over 70 or a child under 16 living in the property

Pictured: Women wearing lagging jacketsThose who qualify, will actually receive two home visits. The first visit will see the advisor assess in detail your energy and water consumption in the home and will last up to two hours.

On the second visit, the advisor will provide a written report showing where and how people could reduce their energy use. The advisor will explain the information in the report, and answer any questions they may have. As well as fitting free energy saving devices where appropriate and giving tips on small changes in behaviour that will help them save even more money.

Achieve is unique to Wiltshire in the UK, and is one of a series of similar successful projects taking place across Europe, in France, Bulgaria, Germany and Slovenia. The aim is to work with local partners and stakeholders to develop long term strategies to improving housing stock and reducing fuel poverty.

To find out more about the Achieve project email Achieve@severnwye.org.uk or visit the Achieve website.

Partners

Funding is provided by Intelligent Energy Europe with match funding from Wiltshire Council.